Eating Healthy for the Holidays

Treating Your Body – and Mind – at Mealtime

healthy holidays

Creamy mashed potatoes, decadent pumpkin pies, casseroles galore – the holidays have a way of enticing the strongest of will to indulge in calorie-packed dishes. Despite Aunt Margie’s famous cake, there are ways to ensure you stay on track during the seasonal months. Check out 8 tips on how to avoid those sugarplums that dance in your head, and keep the empty calories at bay. 

Don’t Skip Meals

How many times have we skipped a meal just to overeat once it’s finally time to nosh. The rules are simple – if you skip a meal, you are more likely to over-indulge when it is finally time to eat. Stick to the golden rule: breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and this applies to holidays. Research shows that consuming breakfast will result in eating fewer calories throughout the day. Enjoy a healthy morning meal of fiber-rich foods like fruits, veggies and whole grains, or a hearty protein shake to satisfy hunger as you await the turkey and stuffing.

Eat Small Portions

With a variety of foods to choose from, keep your plate colorful with small portions of your favorite items (including veggies!). Buffet-style meals mean there is a chance of heading back for seconds, which is even more reason to keep servings small to avoid overeating. And, this gives you even more reason to enjoy dessert. :) 

Bring on the Veggies – And Eat them First

Attending a potluck? Consider offering a nutrient-rich dish that contains non-starchy veggies. (Ideas: Think Brussels sprouts, zucchini or roasted asparagus!) The other side of having veggies play their part at the party is enjoying them before the turkey, stuffing and sweet potato pie. This ensures that you actually eat your vegetables before getting too full, and helps you fuel up on what your body needs.

Trick Your Brain 

Play some games with your brain during meals to help divert your belly from bad choices. One game is using a smaller plate size, so following the buffet line it looks like there is more food than meets the eye. Another sly tactic is to load up your plate with greens before heading to the entrees and desserts. Eat slowly and enjoy every bite, and before going back for seconds wait 10 minutes to see if you are actually still hungry or if it’s just your mother-in-law taunting you.

Keep Moving

Living in beautiful Florida, it is easy to get outside and enjoy some old fashioned physical activity. Post-meal is the perfect opportunity to go for a walk with your family and catch up, or play a game with the kids. 

healthy dessert

Studies show that a brisk 15- to 20-minute walk following a meal can help ease digestion and stabilize blood sugar levels, which is much needed after enjoying your favorite sweets. 

Savor Every Bite

Science shows that it takes around 20 minutes for your brain to receive the signal that you're actually full. Pacing yourself is key here, and when you’re enjoying food this much, it’s an easy task. When you feel full, simply stop eating. Leftovers are a joyous thing. 

Enjoy Dessert 

Being picky about the foods you consume during the main meal means you can enjoy dessert even more. Don’t eat the foods you feel “meh” about. Not into egg nog? Skip it. 

When it comes time for the sweets, savor them. Depriving yourself of things you love will not do you a favor during a festive time with family and friends. Simply watch your portion size when choosing your post-meal indulgence, and eat thoughtfully while enjoying. This leads to the last, most important point..

Lose the Guilt

The holidays are a special time when friends and family gather, therefore it is not a time to fret about how much butter Aunt Sally put in the potatoes. Relax, and live in the moment. This doesn’t mean eat the entire cheesecake, but don’t beat yourself up if you over consume a little. Walk it off, and let it go. Tomorrow is a new day, and your healthy food habits and goals will still be standing. Cheers to a wonderful holiday season ahead, and a very Happy New Year!