This holiday season might be a bit jollier than the last, as it’s safer to gather in person for those who are COVID-19 vaccinated. This means many seasonal traditions are back — including attending events with extended family while following local public health guidelines.
Celebration aside, navigating the holidays isn’t easy for everyone. It can be difficult to see family members you have differences with, you might feel stressed about gift buying, or you may be struggling with overeating.
Jaime Betters, a registered dietitian, and Tim Regan, LCSW, clinical health educator, share holiday habits to avoid.
Over restricting food
Heading into the food-filled season, it’s important to not rectify having an indulgent meal by under eating.
“When people plan on attending a party or Thanksgiving feast, they may tend to skip meals or under eat beforehand,” Betters said. “This leads to overeating later.”
Whatever your plans, try to fuel your body throughout the day with regular meals and snacks. This helps to naturally moderate your intake of indulgent foods. Mindful eating tips include:
• Add, don’t detract. Betters said focus on including more nutritious foods like fruits and vegetables to your diet rather than concentrating on what not to eat.
• If you choose to eat less of something, choose foods high in oil-based ingredients like condiments, foods with a lot of added sugar, and high-calorie drinks.
• Think positively about food. “I discourage the use of terms like ‘cheat meal’ because it creates guilt around eating,” Betters said. “This can cause a pattern of shame, overeating, then undereating.”
Too many drinks
It’s easy to overdrink when you’re celebrating. Regan encourages people to consider their relationship to alcohol this time of year.
“Ask yourself, ‘Is it a fun, occasional activity you enjoy?’” he said. “If alcohol is hard to say no to, or difficult to stop once you’ve started, I’d recommend getting support to reduce or stop drinking and replace it with other fulfilling experiences.”
Betters also suggests to try and never drink on an empty stomach.
I started asking my family, ‘What is a gift that only I can give you?’ The result was awesome. I spent a day in my mom’s garden, went on a road trip with my dad, and went on a nature walk with a friend. These are much more valuable than a fun new toy. – Tim Regan
Arguing with family
The past year may have created tension among family members, due to volatile issues. Knowing how to communicate respectfully and having boundaries is key.
Here are a few things to keep in mind, according to Regan:
• Listen – not to agree or disagree but to understand
• Share – talk about what is important to you, so others can listen
• Space – step away if you feel overwhelmed
• Fun – connect through mutually enjoyed activities
Breaking the bank on gifts
Regan explained that people often become unconscious consumers, buying for the sake of buying, which results in giving gifts people don’t even want.
“I started asking my family, ‘What is a gift that only I can give you?’ The result was awesome. I spent a day in my mom’s garden, went on a road trip with my dad, and went on a nature walk with a friend. These are much more valuable than a fun new toy.”
Doing things out of obligation
Put simply, Regan said, “Try to do what you want to do, not what you have to. Slow down and figure out what matters. This allows you to put yourself first, which in turn makes you more authentic and relaxed for others.”