5 Tips To Surviving The Holidays

We all know “that” feeling, it’s after a holiday dinner and we are sitting in a reclined position with our top button undone wondering how it was possible to finish that very last bite of gingerbread cake.

I have to admit, I’ve been there!   Between Eid celebrations, Thanksgivings, Christmas’s and Easters (and all the little celebrations in between), I have eaten and drank my way to the couch more than once.  Over the last few years I have navigated my way through the gatherings, to being the last one standing and a smile on my face and here’s how!

Remember To Eat

Ever show up to a party where your eyes are bigger than your stomach?  Maybe that skipped lunch was the culprit. When our ‘hunger hormone” ghrenlin is produced, it signals to our brain that we are hungry.  When we don’t eat, the hormone gets absorbed by our stomach and signal doesn’t stop.  When we eat, our stomach stretches and the leptin (satiety hormone that has opposite effects from ghrenlin), turns off the signal.  When we don’t satisfy our bodies need in a healthful way, we will tend to over eat the next meal because there is an abundance of the ghrenlin hormone signalling our brain to eat.


Eating balanced meals throughout the day will make sure you ghrenlin and leptin are in check.  Instead of huge dinner, have a smoothie or a light salad before heading out to the party.

If it’s a sit down dinner:

  • Avoid piling your plate (you can always get seconds).
  • Stick to one type of protein (our bodies digest different protein sources at different rates)
  • Chew thoroughly, at least 30-40 chews.
  • Eat enough so that you are satisfied, about 75-80%.
  • Allow 15-20 mins to pass before second portions.
  • If you need to drink with your meal, have sips of room temperature water, don’t gulp (Cold drinks signal our body to stop the digestive process, leaving food sitting in our stomach and intestines undigested).

It’s Ok To Be Picky

In the past, avoiding the dessert table was by far one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.   My eyes would magically find their way to table as I was engaged in a conversation and slowly each conversation would get closer and closer to the table.   One dessert turns into five and really bad sugar hangover.


Being picky about what desserts you eat can help reduce over indulging.

Pick 1 or 2 of your favourite holiday treats and savour the moment.

Be Wise With The Drinks

I tend to avoid alcoholic drinks for a couple of reasons; it tends to make my dystonia symptoms worse and I’ve got two daughters that wake up before the sun rises!


Having a few drinks at a party isn’t a bad thing, just be mindful to consumption and the types of drinks you are having.  It’s also very important to stay hydrated, so having water after each drink can help with that.

If you want to enjoy a few drinks, I found a link at GQ magazine that lists the best and worst booze to consume.

Offer To Bring A Dish

When I was first diagnosed with dystonia and took a holistic whole foods approach, my family was very supportive but very confused.  No gluten, no dairy, no red meat, no chicken, no chickpeas?  In an indian family, that pretty much eliminated every food group!!  I felt bad because this was an entirely new concept for my mom to understand and with all the prepping, it added to her stress.  I started offering to bring my own dishes to family functions and made enough for everyone, that way I knew that there was at least one dish I was able to eat and it also introduced new flavours to others.


Offer to make a one pot meal that meets your needs.  Make enough for others to try as well, you never know maybe that dish is one that makes a regular appearance!

Be Gentle On Yourself

Party’s are a lot of fun and it is easy to get caught up in the momentum of good company, merry atmosphere and delicious food.  Have too much to drink? Had one too many desserts?  Don’t fret.  Part of being on a wellness path and eating mindfully is also accepting that there’s going to be ups and downs.  Beating yourself up isn’t going to encourage you to want to continue in this lifestyle.  Be gentle with your self talk and how you look at yourself, words have power.  No one is perfect, including me! Good grief, if there’s a jar of Nutella (yes, it’s true) that some how got gifted for the girls, it’s nearly impossible for it to last a month in this house.  Thank goodness I have found a homemade recipe that tastes just as good!


Don’t set very rigid limitations, the sense of “can’t” can break all good habits in an instant (just like don’t press the red button).  Have a drink, have a dessert, but just be mindful to the consumption.  If your mind is filling up with negativity, try and redirect the words to something positive.

Holiday gatherings don’t have to be scary any more! Just follow these easy tips and you’ll be feeling merry all season!


Wholeheartedly yours,

Sumbul Zafar, R.H.N.