Healthy eating during the holiday season is a real challenge. It all starts back in October when the kids bring home those big bags of candy that linger until late November. Then there’s that large turkey dinner complete with rich sauces, savory side dishes, and a well-stocked dessert table. Of course, there are leftovers. Once December rolls around, sweets and treats are handed out left and right. With another large family feast on the horizon for Christmas, it seems reasonable to throw good eating habits out the window and try for a fresh start after New Year’s Day.
Food is an important part of holiday tradition for many families. There are often fond feelings and happy memories associated with food. It’s not just the holiday meals that make healthy eating during the holiday season difficult, however. It’s cold outside and dark more of the time; you want to stay in and eat comforting foods.
However, eating unhealthy convenience foods and ultra processed foods can lead to digestive problems. This is especially true when you eat these foods in large amounts. Here are a few tips to help you maintain healthy eating habits during the holidays.
Moderation is key
It’s easy to get caught up in the holiday spirit and disregard portion sizes, calorie counts, and nutritional values. Apply your healthy eating habits to holiday meals, too. You don’t have to completely avoid your Grandma’s buttery sweet potato casserole or your traditional chocolate Buche de Noel; just enjoy treats and decadent foods in moderation.
Choose healthy dishes
Your holiday meal can be healthy and good for you; fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains are commonly found on many holiday meal tables. Fill your plate with healthy foods and choose smaller portions of less healthy options.
Serve healthy dishes
Make sure there are plenty of healthy food options if you’re hosting for the holidays. If you’re a guest, offer to bring a healthy side dish for holiday parties or family gatherings.
Just a taste
You don’t have to try everything on the holiday spread. However, there’s a way that you can. Dish out a small bite of different dishes instead of large, heaping portions.
Wait a minute
Make sure you’re still hungry before going back for more food. Wait at least 10 minutes to see if you’re still hungry, and then go for an additional helping.
Don’t skip meals
Fasting before a feast can lead to overeating. Eat smaller portions at your earlier meals, and have a light, healthy snack before your holiday get together.
Your beverages contribute to your overall calorie count. Choose water instead of alcoholic beverages or sugary drinks. Drinking water can also help you feel full and satisfied, which can keep you from overeating.
Put it on your plate
Grazing and snacking leads to overeating. It’s difficult to tell just how much you’ve eaten when you’re mindlessly munching. Putting food on your plate helps you slow down and realize just what you’re eating.
You need to be physically active every day. Walk, run, hike, play sports and games outdoors. Physical activity helps improve your mood, helps you maintain a healthy weight, and it can help reinforce other healthy habits.
Bend but don’t break
You don’t have to wait until the new year to get get back on track with your healthy habits. The sooner you start making healthy choices the better it is for your overall health and wellness.