The holiday season is a time of joy, family gatherings, and, almost always, an abundance of delicious food. The average American will gain 8-10 pounds between Thanksgiving and the new year! This year you dont have to be average! While this is a period for indulgence, it doesn’t mean your nutrition goals have to take a back seat. And it doesn’t mean you have to give up the things you love. If the holiday season only means Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner for you, enjoy them and move on! You won't have lasting weight gain from two meals. For the majority of us, it's all the parties, snacking, and office treats that add up over the next month and a half. Here’s how you can navigate holidays in a healthier way.
1. Balance is Key
Remember, it's all about balance. You don't have to deprive yourself of your favorite holiday treats; instead, focus on portion control. Enjoy the foods you love in moderation and balance them with nutritious choices. Pro Tip: Fill half of your plate with non-starchy veggies first ;-)
2. Mindful Eating
Slow down and savor each bite. It takes 20 minutes for your brain to catch up to your stomach. Take a break when you feel 80% full. Mindful eating helps you enjoy your food more and recognize when you are full, reducing the chances of overeating.
3. Don’t Skip Meals
Skipping meals to save calories for a big holiday dinner can backfire. Instead, eat balanced meals throughout the day to avoid overindulging later.
4. Healthy Substitutions
Get creative in the kitchen. Use healthier substitutes in your holiday recipes, such as Greek yogurt for sour cream, cottage cheese for ricotta, applesauce for oil in baked goods, or cauliflower for mashed potatoes.
5. Stay Hydrated
Sometimes thirst is mistaken for hunger. Keep yourself hydrated to help control appetite and improve your overall health.
6. Bring a Healthy Dish
If you’re attending a holiday gathering, bring a healthy dish. This way, you ensure there's at least one nutritious option you can enjoy. Something veggie based is a great option!
7. Practice Portion Control
Use smaller plates to naturally reduce portion sizes. Fill most of your plate with vegetables and lean protein, and leave a smaller space for more indulgent dishes.
8. Limit Alcohol Consumption
Alcoholic beverages can add a significant amount of empty calories. It can also make you feel more hungry and eat more than you normally would. Limit your intake, or opt for lower-calorie options like a wine spritzer or light beer.
9. Focus on Fiber
High-fiber foods, like vegetables and whole grains, can keep you fuller for longer and prevent overeating.
10. Enjoy the Company, Not Just the Food
Remember, the holidays are about spending time with loved ones. Focus on the company, the traditions you love and the joy of the season, not just the food on your plate.
By focusing on one or two of these tips, you can enjoy a healthier holiday season without missing out on the festivities. Remember, it's not about perfection; it's about making better choices that align with your health and wellness goals.