You don’t need the luck of the Irish to have a good time AND not decimate your health goals this St. Patrick’s Day. Staying on track for holidays just takes a few easy little tweaks. Love beer? No problem! Sucker for corned beef? It’s all good! Our strategies will have you feeling both satisfied and proud when Monday morning rolls around, whether you found a pot of gold or not!
- Prioritize your splurges. Decide what’s most important to you on this holiday. Is it beer? Corned beef and cabbage? Cookies and cupcakes covered in green sprinkles? Chocolates wrapped in foil to look like a leprechaun’s gold? Chances are you’re really excited about one specific thing, and sort of ambivalent about the rest. But if we’re not deliberate, we can get swept up in the holiday excitement and mindlessly eat a bunch of junk we don’t even care about. So get deliberate. Ask yourself what foods or drinks will make you feel deprived if you choose to skip them. Once you have your answer, decide that you’ll skip the splurges you don’t care about in favor of the one you do.
- Make a plan. Now that you know what you care about having, it’s time to decide how much. If it’s beer you’re after, will you drink all day or just have one with dinner? Same with chocolates, other sweets, chips, etc. Get specific and you’re much more likely to succeed. Telling yourself what you’re committing to (and sharing with others for extra accountability and reinforcement!) can make the difference between a plan and reality. If I share with my husband that I’m having two beers over the course of a few hours with our friends, he’ll give me a gentle eyebrow raise if I go for a third. It’s not to make me feel bad or tell me I can’t; it’s a reminder of what I said I wanted to do and how I wanted to feel. Decide on your serving size and stick to it.
- Fill in the gaps. Any time we celebrate, it’s a good idea to keep your normal routine as much as possible. If you’re going to a St. Paddy’s Day party in the afternoon or evening, start your day with a green smoothie and have a big, delicious, veggie-filled salad for lunch. It’s better for your body and your mentality to offset rich celebration foods with your usual healthy fare. That makes sure you get all your vitamins, minerals, and fiber which will help you stay in control when you decide to indulge. It also keeps your celebration from turning into an all day free for all, with all the guilt and bloating that follows the next day.
- Embrace the balance. Once you’ve decided on a plan, don’t bother feeling guilty about indulging! Life is all about adventure, and no one wants to miss out or feel deprived. Plus it’s impossible to be on a “perfect” diet all the time. Remember that you’ve chosen balance over perfection.
These four simple strategies should have you feeling great mentally and physically for any special event, not just St. Patrick’s Day! I’d say that’s worth raising a glass to!