There may be fewer trick-or-treaters at your door this year, but today still marks the first holiday of a season that can make it extra challenging to stick to your heart-healthy eating plan.
And I’m not just talking about fun-sized Skittles: a Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte contains 50 grams of sugar – that’s about as much as what’s in two FULL-sized Snickers bars!
So here are my tricks for staying the course and avoiding a two-month slide into bad dietary habits:
- Switch your mindset.There are plenty of seasonal treats to look forward to that also happen to be health promoting. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Fall-flavored soups (butternut squash, potato leek, mushroom barley)
- InstantPot applesauce (toss apples, water and cinnamon in your pressure cooker and your house will smell like an orchard within minutes)
- Roasted pumpkin seeds (get creative with spices)
- Warm breakfasts (this is the time of year I switch from Sprinkles with yogurt and blueberries to Blueberry Oatmeal)
- Plan healthy ways to indulge. Eating real food, not too much, mostly plants is always the right answer, but consuming colder weather favorites such as cheese, chocolate, red wine and even meat is possible on a heart healthy diet so long as portions are reasonable and are part of a predominantly whole food plant based dietary approach.
- Remember that eating healthy isn’t one big choice. It’s a series of small, smart choices. Look at what happens when you replace that Pumpkin Spice Latte or Snickers bar with Step One Foods. Keep in mind, these benefits accrue over an entire year. That’s why it’s so important to simply move on after you overindulge.
- Keep my 5-point strategy for feast days in mind. It IS possible to enjoy everything you love to eat on Thanksgiving day so long as you're intentional about how you go about it.
- Most importantly, don’t beat yourself up if you do overindulge. It is NOT the beginning of a slide; it's simply one bad day. Treat it as such, and start fresh the next day.
As a final thought, we've probably all experienced personal challenges related to the COVID pandemic this year. And our holiday traditions are likely to be affected too, testing each of us even more. So maybe the greatest gift we can give ourselves is to emerge more resilient on January 1, 2021.
That means not giving up on physical activity, social connections, joy and purpose - and eating in a way that supports heart health - between now and the end of the year.
So here's to the next 2 months! It doesn't have to be a slide. Instead it can be a metamorphosis.