Healthy for the Holidays

| Sarah Johnson, MS, RD

The Holiday season is a time for Family, Joy, Celebration, and of course…FOOD!  While it can be tempting to give into all of the delicious foods around us this time of year, we know that when we eat better, we feel better, and when we feel better, we are more present with those around us.  An all-or-nothing mindset leaves us more focused on food than festivities, so this year, let us find a balance between enjoying the holiday treats and making healthy lifestyle choices.  Healthy does not need to be complicated, so let us look at a few simple ways to ensure that your holiday meals are both enjoyable and balanced. 

  1. BBB: Balance Begins at Breakfast:  So often when a big holiday meal is coming up, many will try to “save up” their hunger or their calories.  The problem with this approach, however, is that this is not how our bodies work.  Restricting earlier in the day can actually make us gain more weight and make us less likely to makes mindful food choices.  When we skip eating leading up to a big meal, our metabolisms can slow down.  Remember, your body is smart, and if you do not feed it regularly, it will become more efficient with the calories it does get.  This mentality of “saving up”, also gives our brains the permission and the desire to overeat when mealtime does come.  When we eat regular, balanced meals throughout the day, you enter your holiday meal with less desire to overeat, and a stronger, healthier metabolism. 
  • Make Hydration a Holiday Affair:  Make staying hydrated simple this year. Among all the alcohol and sugary drinks that are common around this time of year, make sure that water- plain, sparkling, or infused is easy to grab as well.  Set a goal for yourself that for every high calorie drink you grab, you will drink 2-3 glasses of water.  Not only will this keep you hydrated, and your metabolism running well, it will keep your calorie intake down.  It is easy and common to misinterpret thirst for hunger- so when we are dehydrated, we will be far more likely to reach for that 3rd, 4th, or 5th cookie when in fact we are just thirsty. Staying hydrated will also bring along the benefit of radiant skin for all those holiday pictures.  A win, win. 
  • Portion over Restriction:  As mentioned above, an all-or-nothing mentality is a dangerous mindset to enter Holiday meals with, as the temptations are everywhere.  Therefore, focusing on portions and balance is a healthier approach. Simple tricks that can help are: 1.) Fill more of your plate with protein, fruit, and vegetables first, before grabbing the starches and the treats.  2.) Use smaller plates to keep portion sizes small.  3.) Make sure you are drinking water with your meals. 4.) Be mindful of the pace at which you are eating. When we slow down, we allow our hunger cues and brain to catch up, making us less likely to reach that point of fullness that comes with regret. 

So, when you gather around the table, remember that the food is only one piece of this time and that in the years to come, it will be the time spent with those we love and the laughs that happen at the table that we will cherish.  This Holiday season, take care of yourself and use these simple ways to help keep you healthy, happy, and present. If you are looking for more dietary guidance and support, contact us today for a free consultation.

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