Thanksgiving was over a week ago, but I thought I’d share a bit about the non-financial goal that I set after the holiday weekend. I bet I’m not the only one to overindulge on Thanksgiving or other holidays (please tell me I’m right)! So for the past week, I’ve been changing my eating habits. Less snacking, less sugar, fewer empty calories, more vegetables!
Thanksgiving break was fantastic: tons of outdoor activity for the whole family thanks to crazy-warm temps, sweet bonding times between our kids and our nieces and nephews, and a large family gathering on Thanksgiving Day. Even the 5-hour drive home was easy as pie; Junior and Mini COD were so exhausted from the festivities that they slept half the time and played quietly in the car once they awakened.
The not-so-fantastic part of the holidays: eating too much and subsequently feeling like crap. Of course, eating good food is a given on Thanksgiving, and we enjoy our holiday staples for sure. My Thanksgiving dinner plan hasn’t changed much over the years: a few bites of turkey or ham, lots of potatoes and casseroles, and about twelve rolls. (Okay, I exaggerate a tad, but I do adore homemade rolls! And since learning Mrs. Picky Pincher’s recipe and tips for perfect yeast rolls, they turn out every time–thanks, Mrs. PP!)
A couple of hours after the main meal, we usually find our way to the dessert table, and in my family, we tend to have a WIDE variety of desserts. Not just pumpkin pie for this crew! While the big selection is awesome, it makes it hard to eat in moderation. I mean, who can choose just ONE dessert out of five or six? I always want a “sliver” of each. Mmm….
So anyway. Back to my point. All of us at the family Thanksgiving feast ate plenty! Somehow we always overestimate the quantity of food we’ll actually need, so we end up with a ton of leftovers. That’s fine, but after one or two leftover meals, it’s like, ENOUGH.
Even with the holidays aside, I’ve been definitely struggling with my diet lately. It’s natural to go through ebbs and flows with any healthy habit, and I’ve been erring on the unhealthy side for quite some time. But, positive news! Thanksgiving break this year was enough of a kick in the pants to get back into a healthier diet. I know I’m not the thinnest I’ve ever been, nor am I terribly overweight, so the goal is actually eating healthy foods in order to feel better. Since my knee is angry with me right now and I can’t run, it’s extra imperative to rein in things on the diet side of the equation.
HEALTHY EATING CHANGES
Instead of waiting until January to feel extra gross after Christmas and New Year’s, I decided to jump in right away last week and implement some healthy changes! Here’s the rundown on shifts I’m working on making right now.
- Vegetables, vegetables, vegetables! Oh yeah! This was one of my main goals last January–getting more veggies into my body. Time to kick that up a few notches. So I’m throwing veggies into everything I can. I’m prepping raw cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, peppers, etc. every day or two for easy snacking. Maybe I’ll even whip out that nifty spiralizer I bought a couple of years ago! (I had hoped to trick my toddlers into eating zucchini with it, but that experiment failed.)
- Cutting down on the sugar. This has always been my Achilles’ heel. I love sweets. I love candy, cookies, and desserts. I used to not even be able to drink coffee unless it was flavored with so much creamer that it tasted like a liquid candy bar. So I’m using less (or no) sugar in my coffee, eating plain cereals like Cheerios, and cutting out a lot of unsatisfying sweets. (The glazed donuts in the foyer after church were something I’d usually have, but I can actually just say no. Imagine that!)
- Limiting or cutting out unnecessary snacks. When I get stressed, usually over the kids’ behavior around 3 PM, I have a tendency to reach for empty-calorie snacks. It’s time to quit using the kids as an excuse for unhealthy habits. Now, I’m grabbing healthy snacks like raw veggies, almonds, fruit, etc., or just skipping the snack entirely.
ONE WEEK IN: PROGRESS
I’m pleased to report that, as usual, making healthy changes is Remove featured imagenowhere near as difficult as I make it out to be. A key to success (so far) is the initial decision to eat healthier. When I get in the habit of eating junk food, it’s easy to stay in that habit. But once I made the decision that healthy eating is more important than momentary stress relief or tasty treats, it became surprisingly simple.
Even on the first day (last Monday), I could already feel the benefits of this change. The veggies and fruits were satisfying my snacking urges and I didn’t just take junk food because it happened to be available. It’s only been a week, but I’m still going with these goals and feeling good about it.
I’m learning to forego some of the snacks and treats my kids are having. Mr. COD even brought home a package of apple fritters on Saturday, and I didn’t inhale them! We have an open bag of mini marshmallows to melt in our cocoa, and I’m not even taking them. Progress, baby!
I figure, even with Christmas coming in three weeks (yikes!), I can reset my diet defaults now and during those holiday gatherings, be better able to enjoy the special indulgences. (Yes, I’m still going to make Sue’s toffee recipe and our favorite cutout cookies.) Better than saying, “what’s the point?” and sinking into a Christmas cookie smorgasbord and sugar coma from Thanksgiving to Christmas!
Takeaway lessons for every default change we want to make:
- Making the decision to change is the first step. Well, duh. But if you never make that decision, you’ll stick with your old, cruddy habits.
- Change is often less painful than we imagine it will be. Don’t fear it; you’re stronger than you believe you are!
Do you have any holiday weaknesses? What do you do to enjoy the special occasions without letting bad habits take over?