Feasting Without the Guilt: Your Guide to Healthy Holiday Eating
The holiday season is a time for joy, togetherness, and, of course, delicious food. While it's tempting to indulge in all the festive treats, it's also essential to maintain a balanced and healthy lifestyle. With Thanksgiving right around the corner, there will be no shortage of holiday meals and treats from now until the end of the year. Read on for some practical tips to help you eat well and stay on track with your health goals during the holidays.
1. Plan Ahead
The key to maintaining a healthy diet during the holidays is planning. Know what events or gatherings are coming up and anticipate the types of food that will be served. If you know you have a big holiday meal coming up for dinner, choose a lighter breakfast and/or lunch that day. By planning your meals, you can make healthier choices in advance.
2. Portion Control
It's okay to enjoy your favorite holiday dishes, but practice portion control. Instead of heaping your plate, take smaller servings. Savor each bite and enjoy the flavors. Once finished, wait for 20 minutes to determine if you are still hungry before going back for a second portion.
3. Prioritize Protein
Protein helps keep you feeling full, so make it a significant part of your holiday meals. Turkey, lean meats, fish, eggs, and non-fat dairy are excellent sources of animal protein. When it comes to plant-based protein, beans, lentils, nuts (almonds and pistachios are most protein rich), quinoa, tofu, edamame, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, and chia seeds are great options.
4. Load Up on Veggies
Fill your plate with vegetables, both raw and cooked. They're rich in nutrients and fiber, keeping you satisfied and providing essential vitamins and minerals. Make it a point to fill at least 75-80% of your plate with lean/plant-based proteins and vegetables and then you can add smaller portions of grains or starches based on your preference.
5. Healthy Swaps
Look for opportunities to make healthier ingredient substitutions. For instance, use non-fat Greek yogurt instead of sour cream in dips or whole wheat flour instead of white in baking. Determine where you can eliminate or reduce added sugar and salt in recipes and steam or roast vegetables instead of frying.
6. Stay Hydrated
Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Sometimes, your body may mistake thirst for hunger, leading to unnecessary snacking. Staying hydrated is also super important if you plan to imbibe in holiday cocktails. Remember moderation and to ensure you are drinking water alongside any other festive drink.
7. Mindful Eating
Practice mindful eating by paying attention to what you're eating, savoring each bite, and enjoying the company of those around you. This can help prevent overindulgence. Eat until you are 80% full and then give your body time to register your satiety signals before reaching for a second helping or dessert.
8. Avoid Sugary Beverages
Limit your consumption of sugary drinks and alcohol, as they can add empty calories to your diet. Opt for water, herbal tea, or infused water instead. If you do want to indulge in a fancy holiday inspired cocktail, consider skipping dessert that meal.
9. Bring a Healthy Dish
If you're attending a potluck or hosting a gathering, prepare a healthy dish you enjoy. This way, you'll have at least one nutritious option available and chances are other guests will appreciate the additional healthy choice. Check out these Be Well Healthy Thanksgiving Favorites for some inspiration.
10. Enjoy Treats in Moderation
It's the holiday season, and treats are a part of the tradition. Allow yourself to enjoy your favorite desserts but in moderation. Savor the taste without going overboard. When baking at home, make reasonable sized batches and don’t leave holiday treats sitting around for too long, especially if you are easily tempted.
11. Get Moving
Maintaining an exercise routine during the holidays is crucial. Make time for physical activity, even if it's a brisk walk or a quick home workout. It will help balance your calorie intake. Look for every opportunity you can to move more. Can you walk to the holiday gathering? Will there be dancing after dinner? Can you squeeze in a slightly longer workout in the morning before a big holiday event? Remember, exercise isn't all or nothing. Every little bit of movement throughout the day counts.
12. Practice Self-Compassion
Finally, remember that it's okay to indulge occasionally. Don't be too hard on yourself if you stray from your healthy eating plan. The holidays are a time to celebrate, so enjoy it guilt-free. Remember one meal or even one day doesn’t make or break a healthy eating routine.
Incorporating these tips can help you savor the joys of the holiday season while still prioritizing your health. By making mindful choices and staying active, you can have a happy and healthy holiday season.
If you are not sure where to start, or if you'd like some help tuning up your current eating habits, consider investing in a Be Well Nutrition Assessment. You’ll walk away with an understanding of the foundation for good dietary habits, the confidence to start implementing healthy diet changes right away, and a roadmap to a healthier (and happier) you! Now is the perfect time to develop long-term dietary strategies that will help you feel your best. As part of my "Be Well Before 2024" initiative, I'm offering 10% off my signature Nutrition Assessment from now through the end of the year. Book a complimentary initial consultation to get started!
Until next time...Eat Well. Live Well. Be Well.