Mindful Eating During the Holidays - Tips from Top Health and Wellness Experts

Mindful eating during the holidays. How to avoid the guilt that often comes with holiday eating and have a plan that leaves you feeling happy, guilt free, and able to enjoy the holidays. Tips for success from top health and wellness experts, and fellow moms! 

The holidays can be a tricky time when it comes to nutrition. It usually goes one of two ways. Either you feel in control and happy because you have a good plan in place for making it through, or you decide you’ll change on January 1st and give yourself permission for a holiday free-for-all.


A lot of times we struggle to feel in control over food during the holidays because it’s so available everywhere we go. We go to parties with food, we attend events with food, we have neighbors bringing us food as gifts, and the list goes on.


Because navigating nutrition during the holidays is something that many of us struggle with, I’ve reached out to some of my nearest and dearest friends in the health and fitness industry for help.


So, today’s post is for you to learn from other women and mothers about how they find balance during the holidays (and all year round!). In fact, if you’re reading this in February or August, these tips still apply. It’s all about finding a healthy balance with food that works for your lifestyle.


Also, don’t forget to grab your guilt free holiday workbook. It’s packed with all the tools you need and a step by step guide to helping you overcome some of the most difficult challenges we face with food such as emotional and stress eating, portion control and free for all eating, and feeling confident and in control at parties and events.



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It’s just a normal day. Breathe. You can always have it later.

MONICA PACKER - aboutprogress.com  


Navigating holiday eating doesn’t have to be traumatizing. They used to cause me panic attacks, but now I view big meals and celebrations like any other Sunday dinner.  All it takes is some time and retraining your thoughts.

Here are three phrases and their related teachings that I like to keep in mind as I approach what could be a highly-charged meal:


“It’s just a normal day.” 

Instead of exercising for hours or starving myself on a particular holiday, I treat those big meal days as normally as I can.  I do a hard-but-normal workout—yes.  I eat a lighter breakfast/snack—sure.  I think ahead of time about what things I’d actually love to eat—most definitely.  But I don’t give the feast so much pressure that I’m doomed for failure.



If my thoughts start racing, I’m overthinking everything, or I notice myself slipping into numbness, I remind myself to take a deep breath and recenter.  What do I want this meal to be about?  What do I really want to enjoy? Everyone is breathing around you, so you can do this as many times as you need!


“You can always have it later.”  

Perhaps I just had a piece of pie and my instinct is telling me to grab another as fast as I can, and then another.  I override those ways of thinking by remembering that I can in fact have another piece later—maybe when my tummy is less full and I enjoy it more, or even months down the road.  Who says you can’t make Grandma’s fudge in the middle of July?!  You most certainly can.  

If this is new for you, hold tight.  It gets easier and in time these ways of thinking will be like second-nature.  I have more tips/phases for you on my website too, if you’re needing just a little extra help.  www.aboutprogress.com  Enjoy your feasts!!


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For me, life and eating is all about balance, and that includes some chocolate every once in a while.

MEG MILES - momstrongutah.com


Here are my tips for staying in control during the holidays while still enjoying the fun.


The "one favorite dessert" rule

Here's how this works. We all love dessert, but sometimes we're faced with a table FULL of it, and we end up overeating and feeling sick. I like the "favorite dessert rule" because I allow myself to choose my very favorite thing from that dessert table, and enjoy every bite, guilt-free. When I am thinking about choosing ONE dessert I will love, rather than bites from a few that I may not enjoy, it helps me to stay in control. So choose that favorite dessert of yours, walk away from the dessert table, and savor every bite.


Have a control word

When faced with all of the holiday food, have a word you can say to yourself, either mentally or out loud that will remind you to think before you eat. Mine is simply "control." When I say this to myself, I remember I am in control, that I don't have to go overboard, and that I can eat intuitively while I make clear and conscious food choices.


Don't be afraid to throw things away

I'm a little embarrassed to admit it, but I have no problem in throwing away sweets that start to collect on my countertop during the holidays. Even the ones that arrive on my doorstep wrapped in a bow. Sometimes I think we eat that whole plate of cookies, or jar of caramels just because it's sitting there, or just so we don't "waste it." Well, have you ever thought of just getting rid of it all together? Maybe enjoying just one thing and getting rid of the rest? It's something to consider!


Leave the "all or nothing" approach at the door

It's easy to get caught up in the "all or nothing" approach. It's like once we have that cookie, we think to ourselves, 'Well I may as well have three or four now that I've blown it.' Well here's the truth. One cookie is NOT going to throw you off. Enjoy it, guilt-free, but know that it's totally possible to get right back on track again! Leave that "all or nothing" approach behind, and start to realize you're always in control. Life is about BALANCE, not perfection. For me, "balance" includes some chocolate every once in a while.


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This treat is always available to me.

RACHEL GAINER - rachelrebuilt.com


Hello, friends! I’m Rachel Gainer of @rachel_rebuilt. As we enter the holiday season, it’s easy to get caught up in feasting festivities or become overwhelmed by how to “stay on track.” I don’t believe it swearing off sweets or skipping social gatherings for the sake of healthy habits. Instead, I focus on nourishing my body, listening to my hunger, and enjoying guilt-free indulgences. Here are four tips to help you stay mindful and in tune with your body during holiday parties:


Indulge in what matters to you.

Resisting a food you REALLY want at the wrong time can lead to “avoidance overeating” (eating too many healthy calories to avoid the treat) or “delayed binging” (eating less-satisfying sugars to fill a lingering craving). Instead, choose foods that are physically and emotionally satisfying. Then eat slowly, savor the flavors, and stop when you feel gentle fullness.


Avoid FOMO feasting

One reason we overindulge during the holidays is that every gathering feels special. We don’t want to miss out on favorite foods, so we eat them even when we aren’t in the mood. To calm food FOMO, try thinking, “This treat is always available to me.” No today doesn’t mean no forever. You can always save a serving for tomorrow.


Practice self-trust

When we tell ourselves we can’t be trusted around food, we tend to become a self-fulfilling prophesy. But when we allow ourselves to eat a little and stop before our plate is empty, we nurture self-trust, eliminate food anxiety, and expend less willpower.


Own your decisions

When you own a decision, it empowers you. The choice to opt out doesn’t feel like a burden or a punishment. The choice to indulge doesn’t come with guilt or regret. Ownership increases mindfulness.


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Holidays are a time of celebration and togetherness, and food should be a fun part of that

ALISON BODEN - nourishingradiance.com


Don't think of "the holidays" as a season

Pick a few select days - maybe it's Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and a couple of holiday parties and enjoy whatever food you want on those days without guilt. And then as much as you can, try to eat normally and avoid splurge type foods on just regular days between events. This makes the indulgent foods at gatherings taste so much better because they'll come with less guilt and remorse. This way you also feel more in control of things when you have a plan in place.


Don't go to a party or other holiday gathering hungry

It's tempting to try to bank up a calorie deficit during the day so that you can feel more free to indulge later. But this almost always backfires and sets the stage for a pretty serious binge eating evening, especially if there's alcohol involved. Going to a party to see all of your favorite treats while your blood sugar is low and you haven't eaten as usual all day is a recipe for overeating. But if you have a nice balanced meal with a portion of protein, starch and fiber you are far less likely to leave overstuffed and full of guilt.


No matter how you’re doing on eating, never skip a workout!

CHEYENNE HAYES - @rise_above_distraction


During the holidays, so many events involve celebrating with food, and I don't want ever come across like "that girl" that is in the corner eating celery sticks.  

Be Intentional

Before I attend an event that will have food, I decide BEFORE I go whether I'm going to enjoy dessert or not (and that is often based on what the rest of my week has been like.  I don't have a problem eating a dessert here and there, but I've learned that for MYSELF, I can't ever eat sugary things back to back days.  If I do....that's when the cravings start).  


Use a dessert rating scale

Once I am AT a party or event, I have a rule that I always use.  I will look at the desserts being offered and decide if anything is rated a 9 or 10 for me (on a scale of 1-10).  There is nothing worse than eating when you said you wouldn't and realizing immediately afterwards that it wasn't even something you really like.  If there is a 9 or a 10 level dessert, I take a reasonable portion, ENJOY IT, and then drink some water and pop in a piece of gum afterwards, to just make sure I don't get carried away.  But if there is nothing that is a 9 or 10 for me, I just say NO, and hold out for another time where I can really enjoy something.  


Leftover treats are trouble

I also am careful not to have "treat" type things laying around the house all month long.  We are deliberate in our times of making cookies or fudge, share a ton of it with the neighbors, and then be done with it.  


Never skip a workout

And no matter how I'm doing on my eating routines, I make sure not to waiver on my work outs. Even if we have family around and such, there is nothing wrong with me slipping out of the house for a 30 minute run.  I just don't ever want to send the message to my body that I'll start taking care of it again in "January".

How to Plan a Personal Retreat

I did something incredible the other day. Something that brought clarity and new life to my business and life. I took a personal retreat.


What exactly is a personal retreat? It’s a time to get away from the distractions of every day life and focus on YOU. Focus on what you want to focus on. To get clear on your goals, spend some much needed time to relax, and to feel a sense of newness to life and where you’re headed.


So, today I’m going to share with you the details of my personal retreat in hopes that it will inspire you to take one for yourself.


Whether you’re a business owner, a mother that runs a family (which is also a “business” owner), or you just need some more clarity in your life, your life and health goals, need to practice a little more self care, need some major stress relief, or are looking for motivation to take that next step or do something that scares you, this post is for you.


My retreat started out as a need to find a way to stop spinning my wheels. I was doing great things, but I wasn’t really getting anywhere. Some weeks my motivation was really high, other weeks, my motivation tanked. I was inconsistent with my goals for my business and truthfully, inconsistent with my life and health goals as well.


Let me tell you that this retreat has been a game changer for myself, my health, my family life, and for my business. I came up with incredible ideas. Ideas that I feel good about and action steps I need to take to reach my personal and business goals.


I hope today’s post will really help motivate you to find a little time for self care, a time to unwind and unplug, and a time to destress as you figure out your motivation and what you really want out of your life.  


Before I share the details of my retreat, I’ve made you a little retreat guide so that you can create one of your own. It’s filled with a schedule for your retreat as well as a suggested packing list so you have everything you need with you. I found that following a schedule was KEY to having a successful retreat.






Of course the first step to any retreat is to find a place to get away. This needs to be a place away from your home, away from distraction and everyday life. I recommend going no further than an hour or so away to give you the feel of being away, but not being too far just in case. Choose 2-3 full days you can escape.


I have a lovely friend with a cabin just 15 minutes from my house and it was the perfect location. It was right by a creek, nestled in a bunch of trees, and gave me that feeling of being in the mountains all by myself (my happy place).


I recommend you pick a place that will bring you joy. Do you want to be able to relax by a pool? Find a hotel that you can enjoy a good book or have a brainstorming session poolside. Do you love the mountains or the beach? Rent a room that fits your desires and that makes you feel most at peace.


If possible, save up a bit for the event. You don’t want to go to an old motel where the smells make you sick or the bed is 50 years old. You’ll be spending a lot of time in your room, so I’d recommend finding a place that makes you feel comfortable. What things help you feel less stressed? Ask for a room with windows, or a back corner room that is quiet, or a room poolside if that’s what you enjoy.


Whatever location you choose, make sure it is one that will help you feel inspired, uplifted, motivated and ready to take on your goals.


With that, you’ll need to plan ahead to find the proper babysitting if needed. This is a time for you, no kids allowed. Get your babysitting lined up well in advance and you’ll be on your way to your personal retreat in no time!



Ah, the schedule. This is KEY. Having a personal retreat schedule will make the entire difference whether or not your retreat is successful.


During the retreat, you will be spending a lot of time writing and brain dumping. You will also spend a lot of time relaxing and enjoying some much needed self care. It’s important to know when you’re doing what so you leave the retreat with a good balance of getting stuff done and feeling rejuvenated when you leave. The worst thing that could happen is that you leave feeling overwhelmed or exhausted.

My supplies: Retreat Guide by  Bold & Sassy Solutions , my schedule, notebook, reading book, poster, markers and pens. 

My supplies: Retreat Guide by Bold & Sassy Solutions, my schedule, notebook, reading book, poster, markers and pens. 


I’ve made a very detailed schedule for you that will guide you through every minute of the day (don’t worry, there’s plenty of room for rest, pool time, exercise, good food, and all that good stuff).



As a general outline of how my retreat went, and how I recommend doing it, I will share a general 2 day retreat outline. The guide I’ve provided for you has a more detailed schedule and an option for a 3rd day and what to do if you have that time.



Most hotel check in times are 3 PM. I usually call earlier and see if my room is ready. Most of the time it is, unless it’s a busy weekend or they have an event going on. If you can get there earlier or if you don’t need to check in, I recommend going as early as possible. If you can’t check in early, then go in the evening and let it be your relaxation time. Don’t do any work, just enjoy a nice dinner, relax, watch an inspirational movie, and take a few hours to get prepared for the next day.


If you don’t need to check in, I recommend either staying the night before so you can get an early start to the morning, or heading up early the same morning.



I recommend finding movement of any sort in each day. This can be a simple jog, hike, yoga routine, or whatever gets your heart pumping. Try to get your exercise in early in the morning before you do anything else. This will wake up your body and your brain and get you motivated.



Throughout the day, you will have 2-2.5 hours of brain dumping sessions.


The first brain dump is literally that. Write down all of your ideas, your thoughts, your worries, your fears, your excitement, or anything that comes to your mind. You will set a timer (by the way, you phone is OFF during this time) and just write.


When the time goes off, set everything down and either go for a walk, exercise more, or read a good book for 30-60 minutes. This is a time you can enjoy a meal or a snack and just let your brain relax.


Then, get back to it for another 2-2.5 hour brain dump session. Same idea, but this time you’ll take all the ideas you had from the first brain dump and narrow them down to what you want to focus on. Pick 3-5 things to focus on from the first brain dump, and then continue to write, to brainstorm, and to dream.



Each day will have 2-3 brainstorming sessions filled with breaks for self care in between. Then, when evening comes, you will put everything away, enjoy a nice bath or dip in the pool, enjoy dinner by yourself, and fall asleep to a good book or movie (whatever relaxes you the most).


At this point, my brain was TIRED. It was incredible to see how much strength it took to take my ideas and get them out, organized, and made into a plan. Take some time for self care. Get a massage, eat a nice dinner, watch a movie you love. Whatever it is that will help you be calm, relieve stress, and enjoy the evening, do it.

There was a creek right outside my door and it was heaven to dip my toes in and relax. 

There was a creek right outside my door and it was heaven to dip my toes in and relax. 


The next day, you will repeat the same process as you continually narrow down your goals and your vision.


Remember, this retreat can be used as a business retreat or a personal retreat, but I wouldn’t recommend making it both. Don’t try to figure everything out at once with work, with your family life, and with your personal life. Choose something specific to focus on and stick to it.


You can choose to make it a personal retreat where you explore your personal vision, your personal goals, your motherhood goals and vision, your life goals, etc. In this scenario, the retreat is about YOU. It’s about becoming the best YOU you can be. Go into it with a plan of what you want to get out of it and then it will come as you brainstorm.


You can also choose to have a business retreat. If you run a business, want to run a business, or even are trying to figure out what to do with your career, make it a business retreat. Focus on work, what you want out of life as it pertains to your work status, and how you need to change or motivate yourself personally to find success in this area of your life.


I know many people have marriage retreats with their spouse as well. These are all great ideas for gaining more inspiration in life, motivation toward your goals, and accomplishing your dreams. Whatever retreat works for you, go for it!



Of course the goal of any personal retreat is to come away with actionable goals to work on in the coming weeks and months. So, your brain dumping sessions eventually lead to the discovery of a few very specific, very actionable, and outlined goals.


Once you spend the first day just brainstorming ideas, your retreat guide will lead you to picking the top 3-5 ideas you want to follow through on. You’ll leave your retreat with clear goals, and more motivation and determination to get stuff done.


The key to making a plan is to take plenty of paper to scribble on, a notebook to write ideas, and a planner to turn those ideas into a checklist and guide of actionable items.




Lastly, repeat. Yep, you’ve gotta do this at regular intervals to see results. Just like any health goal, you need to track, revisit, and modify as you go along.


I recommend planning a retreat twice per year if possible. If that’s not possible, at least get away once every year to make sure you’re staying on track and continuing to make progress.


Eventually your family will get used to these retreats and you will look forward to them for the much needed alone time and self care you’re looking for.


Now it’s time to start planning your retreat! Tell me where you’re going to go! What kind of retreat do you want to create? Let your vision be clear and dream big.

Where will your next retreat be?

Where will your next retreat be?