Last year, the day after Thanksgiving, something incredible happened. I woke up on Friday morning for the first time ever not feeling like I needed to go to the gym for 3 hours to burn 1,000 calories, not feeling like I needed to juice fast, or only eat vegetables all day, not feeling GUILTY for the way I treated my body the day prior.

For as long as I can remember, I always had an unhealthy relationship with food around the holidays. You can call me a “holiday binger”. And I know some of you are saying, “Lauren, that’s so many of us! That’s what the holidays are for!” But the problem goes beyond simply over indulging.

The reason why I was bingeing was because my normal “healthy” eating was so restrictive that the only time I’d allow myself to indulge was on these designated celebration days. It was like this was the ONLY day I could ever have corn bread, so I needed to have 10 pieces, I couldn’t just have 1-2. I can never normally eat pumpkin pie, so let’s just eat all the pieces until I physically feel like I can’t eat another bite.

On top of that mindset was that because I knew that I was eating an insane more amount of calories than normal and constantly thinking about what food I should have next, I was stressing myself out so much. And the stress was ALSO making me want to eat more because my body wanted to comfort itself. 

I cannot believe that during a time of family, connection, laughter,ect… THESE are the things that were most consuming my mind.

So, there’s a ton of “tips” out there around holiday eating, but I want to boil it down to some practical ones that helped me last year and those which I am going to continue through this year’s holiday season:

1. Morning Meditation and movement

For many of us, we make better food choices when we make other healthy choices throughout the day. Last year I worked out in the morning and meditated/ visualized how I wanted to see myself throughout the day…being grateful, mindful, and appreciative. It doesn’t have to be a 2 hour workout or an hour long meditation. Just treat the day like any other day, asking yourself what YOU need to do to start your day off best.

2. Take the focus off of food

Deep breaths, chill out, it’s just food! It’s to be enjoyed, yes, and if you over do it a bit, it’s all good! But it doesn’t have to be on the forefront of your mind the whole day and night. Focus on things that are better worth your energy: telling stories, laughing, playing games, connecting.

3. Picture how you want to feel Friday morning

Do you want to wake up feeling crappy from high blood sugars all night? Do you want to feel regretful that you you put so much focus on food and not on your family? Ask yourself how you want to feel and then your body will naturally make decisions to support that.

4. Don’t hang out in the kitchen

The kitchen will probably be where most of the food is before the actual dinner. Grab yourself a drink, make yourself a plate, and head over to the living room. Out of sight, out of mind.

5. Make healthier versions of your favorite foods.

A lot of times we feel so crappy after Thanksgiving food because there is so much sugar, butter, dairy, gluten,ect. involved. Why not make 3-4 dishes that you know you’ll enjoy but doesn’t have so many ingredients that will make you feel that “food hangover” even more? Last year I made this vegan Alfredo Butternut Squash Lasagna and a Vegan Cesar salad that was the bomb!

All in all, just be mindful! Mindful loving, mindful eating, mindful connecting, mindful enjoying the pleasures of the day. You don’t have to be “all in” or “all out”. There can be a balance. Just ask yourself what you want that to look like for you!