Having Healthier Holidays

The holiday season is fast approaching and some of the trends of the season often lead to a decline in eating habits. Holiday celebrations frequently revolve around family meals and parties that include an abundance of rich foods, more frequent dining out, and an increase in snacking on seasonal sweets and treats. The good news is that it IS possible to enjoy holiday eating without dreading the need to diet in January. Here are some eating tips to consider as we approach this time of year.

  • Don’t eat less during the day to “have room” to overindulge later. This mindset actually sets you up to over eat!! When we under eat during the day, our bodies get over-hungry and it makes it more likely we will overindulge when we do eat. Instead of “saving up”, eat consistent meals throughout the day. Not only during the holidays, but throughout the year, the habit of skipping meals can lead to low blood sugar, increased cravings, and an increase in binging tendencies.

  • Balance the plate and the buffet. If you are hosting a meal, be sure to serve a variety of foods. Offering a balance of rich foods, with some lighter fare, gives guests the opportunity to balance their plate. When choosing foods to eat, identify some tasty healthier options that can be balanced with some of the other indulgent choices.

  • Don’t be afraid to say no. We all know people that find enjoyment in encouraging others to eat. Politely saying “NO” is OK.

  • Focus on eating mindfully. As you are eating, think about enjoying the flavors, textures, and smells of the food. This practice helps you to get more satisfaction from the foods you are eating. Eat slowly and pay attention to how your body feels as you are eating. As you are eating, think about where your body feels on the hunger-fullness scale. It’s OK to eat to fullness, but practice avoiding eating to the point of being “stuffed”.

  • Don’t forget the doggie bag. Rather than overindulging because you feel like you are eating “your last supper”, don’t be afraid to ask to take food home to be consumed later. It’s better to stop eating when full and take leftovers home, rather than feeling like you need to clean the plate or eat everything in the moment since you may not get a chance to eat those foods again.

  • Include some movement. Engaging in regular movement during the holiday season is a great way to cope with holiday stress and make you feel more positive about your health.

  • Shift your focus. Try focusing more on the time spent with others and the experiences of the holidays rather than on the menu.

Remember that no single meal or food is going to make you “unhealthy”, rather it is the habits we have over time. All foods can fit into a “healthy” diet. The issue is really about balance and not with particular foods. Balancing those foods that are deemed “unhealthy” with other more “healthy” foods in our diets, and engaging in movement, while holding dear the spirit of the holidays is the best way to make your holiday season healthy.

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