The holiday season brings with it comfort and joy and sometimes even discomfort and unhappiness if you’ve strayed from your healthy eating regime or overeaten yet again! Some people may be “fasting” the day away today in preparation for the abundance of food tomorrow. Others may joke that it’s time to bring out the ol’ elastic waistband pants for Christmas dinner. This is not the way to handle holiday eating!
Here are a few tips to help you survive all of your holiday dinners:
- Instead of making a beeline to whatever catches your eye first, scan the table first to check out the healthiest options. Choose lots of salads and vegetables as opposed to mounds of bread and potatoes. Choose lean cuts of meat rather than fatty ones.
- Indulge in foods that only make appearances during the holidays. You can have mashed potatoes any time of year, but Grandma’s special jellied salad only comes at Christmastime! Really savor and enjoy your choices.
- Enjoy your holiday favorites with healthier, guilt-free substitutions, like Coconut Milk ‘Nog!
- Avoid foods that you are sensitive or intolerant to. You don’t want to ruin the holidays with gas, bloating and diarrhea/constipation. There is nothing merry about that!
- Don’t feel like you are obligated to eat anything. We almost always cave to peer pressure when it comes to food or drink. We feel an obligation to have some because everybody else is, or we don’t want to hurt people’s feelings. If someone is trying to force a food on you that you don’t want, maybe say “I am simply just too full from all the other delicious food!” or “I am saving room for that divine looking dessert!” or just be honest about why you are or aren’t eating/drinking certain things. Explain how eating/drinking that will make you feel. Maybe you don’t like stuffing, or squash makes you feel sick, or you’re gluten-intolerant and can’t have stuffing. It IS okay to say no! Everybody is entitled to his or her own opinions/beliefs/practices/choices.
- Use your stomach, not your eyes as a gauge to not overeat. If you notice you are slowing down as you eat, or starting to feel full in the slightest, do NOT go back for seconds. Wait it out for at least 15-20 minutes. If you don’t start feeling full, then have a spoonful or two more, not a whole second meal. As good as the food may taste, nobody wants the day-after stuffed, feeling sick food hangover. There will likely be plenty of leftovers, so you don’t have to eat as much as you can of your favorite dish all in one night!
- Pace yourself. It can be easy to get caught up in the conversation and next thing you know you’ve mindlessly downed three glasses of eggnog, cider or wine. Make sure you really enjoy the drink. Alternate with a glass of water perhaps.
- Be active. It is so easy to become a couch potato sitting around eating all sorts of goodies during the holidays. Balancing out your food intake with a little bit of exercise everyday can help counteract your increased caloric intake and help you avoid putting on those few holiday pounds. Whether it’s going to the gym, walking your dog or simply going for a walk with family and friends, every little bit helps!
- Last but not least, know that if you make healthy choices 90% of the time and not-so-good ones 10% of the time, you WON’T be off track when the holidays are over! Simple as that!
I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and the happiest of holidays!!