Eating healthy during the holidays can seem daunting as the season often disrupts our routines, for joyful and/or stressful reasons. Stress is a common culprit with lots to organize, including but not limited to travel. Social gatherings and reuniting with family are reasons to cheer but the decadent meals can bring many temptations. The good news is that practical tips can help you eat healthy during the holiday without having to swear off all the delicious dishes and drinks available.
Remember the following health benefits of healthy eating can motivate you during the holidays:
- Increased energy levels
- Better mood and sleep
- Improved memory and brain health
- Cardiovascular health
- Boosted immune system
#1 Plan Ahead
When filling your plate, a good idea is to have a lot of colors, especially green, on it. Filling at least half of it with vegetables and/or fresh fruits helps to limit richer foods that are generally associated with weight gain. Having a healthy snack, loaded with fibers and protein, before a holiday party can help to minimize overeating.
A lot of seasonal drinks are packed with added sugar, so you may want to either minimize your intake or investigate healthier alternatives. Nutritious swaps extend to any food prep for the holiday, especially if you get to cook and bake for specific gatherings. Doing your research early will give you more time to find new options and possibly try them out before the big event.
Buffets can be full of temptations and end with an overflowing plate. You may also realize that some of your favorites were available after already putting food on your plate. To avoid this, loop the buffet beforehand so you know what to expect and choose when it’s time to fill your plate.
#2 Be Intentional When Indulging
The variety of foods available during holiday meals can be overwhelming. It can also tempt you to try everything out of curiosity. When you are conscientious about your food intake, choosing to go with dishes you know you love is a smart approach. The “less is more” philosophy can help you to indulge in favorites without guilt. Instead of sampling all six available desserts, stick to the one or two you love. This minimizes “decision fatigue” and also ensures that you don’t regret your choices.
Another way to make choices easier is when the holidays bring back some seasonal favorites you do not get to enjoy other times of the year. When trying to decide between a seasonal and non-seasonal indulgence, you may opt for the holiday one, knowing you can sample the other any time you want, or at least during other family occasions if it’s a family-made dish.
Choosing intentionality when making food choices helps you to stay on track with a healthy lifestyle, but you may want to avoid putting any hard limits on dishes. If you love a decadent dish or dessert and get an opportunity to eat it during the holiday, go for it! It all boils down to choosing what you love.
#3 Moderation Is Key
Sticking to regular portion sizes during the holidays allows you to enjoy the special foods without overeating. Deciding to stick to one serving, whether for food or drinks, also helps to keep things in moderation. If you choose to have some alcoholic beverages, you may also decide to minimize or avoid sugary mixes and instead use low-calorie mixers like soda or seltzer waters.
Make sure to stay hydrated, especially if you are drinking more alcohol than usual. It will help to improve your digestion and avoid hangovers. It is easy to mistake thirst for hunger, so if you aren’t sure, reach out for a glass of water first.
#4 Savor Every Bite
Mindful eating is a great way to enjoy all the yummy food. Slowing down and focusing on the smell, taste, and texture of each bite helps you make the most of a given dish. Not eating past the feeling of fulness reduces the risk of overeating, which can leave you feeling tired or sick. If you are debating going for seconds, give yourself 10 to 20 minutes. If you are still hungry afterward, get another serving, but giving yourself this time window can help you minimize how often you go back for seconds, and how much you eat when you do go back.
Recognizing your body’s hunger cues helps you honor your hunger and not skip food when you shouldn’t, like if you want to skip meals because of a big party that evening, or because you are too busy. Eating healthy foods regularly helps to alleviate stress as well. Keep nutritious snacks available when you are busy with holiday preparations.
During the holiday meals, focus on the pleasurable experience of eating special dishes and even small healthy snacks as you focus on holiday cheer. Also, remember that leftovers are great opportunities to savor every bite of the delicious dishes.
#5 Move Your Body
Physical activity is part of a healthy lifestyle year-round, and you don’t want to skip on that during the holiday. Moving your body at least 30 minutes after a meal, even if you’re planning to watch a movie or play board games, can make a positive difference in your digestion. Making sure to get some activity in, even if just a short walk right after a meal, especially with holiday indulgences, is a great habit.
Sticking to your usual exercise routine or even increasing it during the holiday has great benefits for your body weight and health. If you are traveling or catching up with family and friends you don’t see often, you still have a variety of options for physical activity. Socializing is a huge part of the holiday season, and you can take walks together, actively play with children, go ice skating, engage in snowball fights, or explore the area. When you’re indoors, you can also choose to stand when you’re mingling, stretching your legs regularly, or even taking a few flights of stairs. Exercising, even in small bursts throughout the day, benefits both your physical and mental health.
Our Soza Weight Loss team can support you on your journey to healthy living! Contact us today at (504) 475-9817 or via our online form to schedule a consultation.