One of the really fun things about the holiday season is the return of our favorite holiday treats. The shelves at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s are overflowing with luscious-looking cakes, pastries, chocolates, caramel sauces, hot cocoa mixes, bacon-wrapped dates, gravies, cheeses, hors-d’oeuvres, and chutneys. What’s a girl to do?! I say enjoy but enjoy mindfully.
- Pick your poison. You can have it all, but you can’t have it all at once. Otherwise, you’re going to end up feeling like garbage, if not in the moment, then a little bit later. Our PCOS bodies just can’t handle a lot of sugary fatty empty carbs, huge meat meals with all the sides, or days without vegetables.
- If in doubt, leave it out. You’re looking at that beautiful dessert table and just can’t decide. It all looks so good. Well, sure, but what if you just skipped it? Let your meal finish digesting, and let the sense of satiety kick in. Go find someone interesting to talk to. Revisit the issue in half an hour. You probably won’t even want anything.
- Choose the dark chocolate. Truffles, chocolate coated nuts (which have the benefit of protein and fat to help balance that bit of sugar), or a sliver of a flourless chocolate cake will all be infinitely more satisfying than most treats.
- Eat fruit. Pink grapefruit, perfectly crisp apples, creamy pears (especially the ones that get shipped out, wrapped in gold foil, in gift boxes), and sharply sweet oranges are all in season. You’ll get a good dose of vitamins, minerals, and fiber with your treat.
- Limit dairy. Skip the stuff you know bugs your stomach. Eggnog is not going to be easier on your tummy than any other glass of milk. Ice cream is available year-round. Cheesecake? Now is the time to try a vegan version, which is pretty darn yummy in its own right.
- Only eat what you baked yourself. Nothing commercially prepared. You’ll appreciate it so much more, and you’ll know precisely what you put into it. Use pastured eggs, grass-fed butter, organic vanilla, and almond flour instead of wheat to make healthy and delicious festive treats. And of course, there’s so much less of it. Honestly, it’s just not worth eating the sheet cake and swimming pool sized pumpkin pie from the grocery store.
- Honor your family traditions. German stollen (but me, I’m all about the Dominosteine!). Mexican tamales. Southern sweet potato pie. Italian panettone. Grandma’s stuffing. Your aunt’s justifiably famous whiskey cake. Decide what really makes you feel connected to your family, your heritage, and the season, and plan to enjoy it in a limited quantity. If you share it with others, you’ll have the gift of companionship, building intimacy by sharing your world, and also reducing the amount available to you to eat!
- Don’t be afraid to say “no thanks” repeatedly. You don’t need to apologize or explain. Just say “no thanks.” It’s a complete sentence. And then move on. Literally. Leave the room, go to the bathroom, step outside for a minute, go back to your desk to get something.
- Limit yourself to one serving of one treat per day. I find that I end up feeling really awful when I go from party to party, or office to office, sampling everything. It just doesn’t work well with where my body is at right now. But I might do something like have a glass of wine at the first event, a pile of protein and some crudité at the second event, and a couple of bites of dessert at the third event. It’s actually a semi-balanced meal, I get to share in the festivities, and I don’t give myself something to feel sorry about later. Soooooo much better!
If stress is threatening to derail your sense of control, hop on over to my private Facebook page, PCOS Psychology, for some support. And don’t forget to get a copy of my new book, The PCOS Mood Cure, which is full of strategies for healthy living, stress reduction, and mindful eating.