There are a lot of reasons why it can be so difficult to stay focused on health during the holidays. The novelty effect of food can be overwhelming! It’s Aunt June’s Pecan Pie you get to have 1 time a year and all those nostalgic feelings that can take over during this time of year. The holidays should not be a time to fear food; food does not have to control us. If we take some of these steps into consideration, we can get to the new year feeling focused and in control!
1) Don't Arrive Hungry
May sound counterintuitive, but eating a healthy snack with fiber and protein will help control our appetites and decrease our risk of overeating. Skipping meals in anticipation of going crazy at the party will likely lead to overeating.
2) Balance your Plate
We can start off with some veggies to take the edge off if we are hungry. High fiber and protein foods will help with satiety and make us feel fuller faster. Stick with those foods first and then add in the richer options.
3) Budget Wisely
We don’t have blank checks to spend money on whatever we want, and we shouldn't think we have blank checks to eat whatever we want. Be choosy, be skimpy. Scan the available foods at the party and think about what you REALLY want to eat. Don’t skip what you REALLY like. Just take a small serving of the foods you REALLY DO want to eat.
4) Bring Items you know are Healthy
Bringing a healthy dish ensures that there will be something healthy to eat at the event. This allows a little more control over the situation. Plus, it gives the other party guests a healthy alternative!
5) Choose a Smaller Sized Plate
I know this sounds crazy, but there is research that shows we fill up our plates no matter what size they are and we tend to eat the amount of food on our plates. With the same amount of food, we tend to think we are eating more food if we use a smaller plate and less food when we use a larger plate. Using a smaller plate is a great portion control strategy
6) Take a Minute to be Mindful
Wait 15-20 min before going to grab more food. It takes a few minutes for our brains to receive the “full” signal. Go socialize, talk, drink water then re-check your appetite. Be mindful of what you are eating. If you take a bite of something and it’s not as amazing as you thought it would be, then don’t finish it. Notice when you are feeling full, this is being mindful and avoiding emotional eating. Don’t stand near the food table. If you are prone to mindless eating, pop a piece of gum in your mouth and step away from the food table.
7) Scale Back on Mealtime Carbs
If you are wanting that sweet treat, cut back on those higher-carb foods during the meal, especially the foods you don't care for. Now, if you are someone whose favorite holiday dish is grandma's sweet potatoes, then your goals will be different. Again, it is all about balance and truly enjoying what you decide to indulge in.
8) Watch Liquid Calories
1 cup of eggnog can be about 360 calories, 1 cup of hot chocolate can be around 200 calories, and most alcoholic drinks are easily 200 calories. Try sparkling water with a splash of fruit juice or wine. Drink a glass of water between alcoholic drinks if you are going to indulge.
9) Be Merry, Be Festive, Be Social
If we socialize and talk more, we will eat less. Simple as that. Putting the focus on our family, friends, laughter, & cheer instead of putting the focus on the food and the guilt that many times comes after the food should be our holiday goal.
10) Share your Food Gifts
Receive food as a gift? Share it! Pass it out versus taking it home, especially if controlling yourself will be a concern. Try and give nonfood gifts if possible, especially to someone you know who is trying to make healthier decisions.
11) Stay Active
Don’t use the holidays as an excuse to decrease daily activity, stay focused and make movement a priority. Start a new family tradition by encouraging a walk before and/or after dinner. If there is music at a party, put on your dancing shoes! Moving before and after eating can help keep your blood sugar in control and burn off a few off those extra calories. So, just keep moving!
12) Focus on Sleep
Life gets busy during the holidays. So much to do in so little time, but please do not skimp on sleep. Research has shown that if we get less than 7-8 hours of sleep, for even just one night, it affects our metabolism. It can cause an increase in blood sugar as well as an increase in mindless eating. When we do not get enough sleep, we tend to increase the calories we consume the next day. So, make sure you are getting enough sleep to ensure you stay on track the next day.
13) Don't Punish Yourself
Please don’t punish yourself if you do overdo it. Start fresh the next day, and get back on track. Don’t cut back and starve yourself, make sure you eat plenty of protein, fiber (fruits & veggies) and drink plenty of water. Make sure you stay hydrated, this will help get your body get back on track.
Most importantly, if balance & moderation are typical for you, it IS ok to overindulge on occasion. We are all human. What can get us in trouble is completely giving up, not being mindful, and deciding not to implement any of these tips. The results can pile up after the 6-8 week holiday season and leave us feeling defeated when the new year rolls around.
If you would like more tips on how to stay healthy year-round! Book your FREE 15-minute Exploratory Call today!