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10 Strategies for Navigating Holiday Feasts: A JumpstartMD Guide to Mindful Eating

10 Strategies for Navigating Holiday Feasts: A JumpstartMD Guide to Mindful Eating

As the leaves turn amber and the air grows crisp, the holiday season ushers in an abundance of joy, warmth, and… delectable temptations. It’s a time when tables groan under the weight of traditional dishes, and resisting second helpings can feel as challenging as turning down a heartfelt gift. Here at JumpstartMD, we understand the struggle. So, let’s talk turkey (and all its trimmings) about managing food intake during the most wonderful (and indulgent) time of the year.


Embrace the Spirit, Not Just the Spread


Remember, the essence of the holidays isn’t just found in the food but in the togetherness it celebrates. Focus on the laughter, the stories, and the connections. Food is merely a backdrop to the festivities, not the protagonist of the season.


Strategy #1: Portion Control and Planned Selectivity, Your Sleigh Ride to Success


Begin with the end in mind: visualize a plate that’s satisfying, not overflowing, and low enough in carbohydrate to keep your blood sugar in balance. The holiday favorites will be there, but they don’t all have to be on your plate at once. Smaller portions allow you to savor your must-haves without the post-meal regret or, alternatively, you can substitute higher carb options, such as mashed potatoes, for delicious cauliflower gratin.


Strategy #2: Mindful Munching


Engage fully with every bite. The more mindful you are, the slower you’ll eat, and the better you’ll digest—not to mention recognize when you’re full. Chew thoughtfully, and let your senses relish each flavor. This practice turns a quick chow-down into a fulfilling experience that often leads to eating less.


Strategy #3: A Strategy As Old As Thyme: Plan Ahead


Before you’re swept up in the holiday hustle, plan your meals. If you know Aunt Clara’s pecan pie is a non-negotiable, balance it out with lighter meals earlier in the day. This doesn’t mean skipping meals to “save calories” (which can lead to overeating later), but rather choosing meals that are protein-rich and lower in carbs to keep you satiated and energized.


Strategy #4: Keep the ‘Move’ in Movement


Stay active. A brisk walk in the winter air or a fun family game of touch football can do wonders. Regular exercise not only helps with calorie control but also elevates your mood and reduces stress—keeping you more in tune with your hunger cues.


Strategy #5: Be the Master of Your Domain


You can’t control every menu, but you can control your domain: your plate. Scan the buffet or the dining table first without a plate in hand. Decide what you’re going to have, then stick to your plan. Be selective, be deliberate, and above all, be kind to yourself.


Strategy #6: The Power of “No, Thank You”


It’s okay to say no. Whether it’s to a second helping or the well-meaning relative who insists you try every dish, a polite “No, thank you” is a powerful tool in your holiday arsenal.


Strategy #7: Liquid Calories Count


Alcoholic beverages and holiday punches can be packed with calories. Choose low or no carb options, spritzers, water between alcoholic drinks, or hot tea to stay hydrated and reduce unnecessary calorie intake.


Strategy #8: Find Comfort in the Uncomfortable


It’s not uncommon to experience a little discomfort when you break from tradition, especially when it comes to eating differently during the holidays. Embrace it. Every change you make is a step toward a healthier you.


Strategy #9: Reflect, Don’t Regret


End each day with reflection, not regret. If you overindulge, don’t beat yourself up. Acknowledge it, learn from it, and plan how you’ll approach the next event differently.


Strategy #10: Honor Your Weight Loss Medication Journey


For those on weight loss medications: Remember, these are powerful tools helping you on your journey to wellness. It’s important to stick to the medication schedule prescribed to you. These medications are designed to help reduce your appetite and control cravings, so trust in their support, and continue to eat mindfully. If you find the holiday temptations challenging, speak to your JumpstartMD clinician about adjusting your prescription regimen during this season to help maintain your progress.


As we wind down, remember that the holidays are a time for celebration, not stress. At JumpstartMD, we believe in living life to the fullest—and sometimes, that means indulging in your favorite holiday dish. It’s all about balance, intention, and the joy of the season.

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