This topic seems to be the million-dollar question that many people feel defeated with right out of the gate, so let’s not look at the quality of our holiday season based on what we can/can’t eat, but rather on who we can enjoy, what traditions can we keep, and what is it in the activities we do that bring us holiday cheer.
Here are a few tips to help us with the parties, the leftovers, and changing our mindset to a healthier holiday season:
- Don’t miss meals. You will likely end up eating double at the party to satiate your hunger. To help, try eating something light before leaving for a party. A piece of fruit, some veggies, or a light sandwich, so that you don’t arrive hungrily and eat more than you intended.
- If you go to a restaurant or have catered food at the company party, choose the healthiest dishes: veggies, grilled meat, or salad. Go light with sauces or dressings (get these on the side if possible, your diet will thank you later).
- Dessert is also ok, in smaller portions! Fruit can also be a nice choice for a sweet end to the wonderful meal.
- Some ideas for preparing at home for the holiday events & how to organize your refrigerator:
- Stock your fridge with healthy foods. High-fiber veggies to fill you up, and lean protein (leftover turkey breast counts!) to keep you satisfied. Fruit is also good to have on hand if you are wanting something sweet without breaking the “bank” (diet).
- Organize your fridge strategically. Put leftovers in the fridge towards the back and keep fruit and veggies in front. This way you’ll have to work to get the good stuff, and have easy access to the healthiest foods.
- Put food away. Those holiday cookies might look festive on the countertop, but they’re more likely to tempt you if you can see them. The more accessible food is, the harder it is to resist, says Beth Vallen, Ph.D., assistant professor of marketing at Villanova University and environmental food cues researcher. Your best bet is to keep food in the cupboard or fridge below eye level, so you don’t see treats every time you walk by the kitchen or swing open the fridge door for a snack.
- Start the day with something light, based on vegetables, chicken or fish, and non-greasy food.
- Use smaller plates. When given a choice at a holiday event or at home, pick a small plate to avoid overeating. Occasionally it is okay to overindulge, but day in and day out, you will see the scale creep up and wonder why your diet is failing.
- Last but not least and quite possibly most important: fit in some form of physical activity. Whether it’s a fast walk, going up/downstairs at home, or signing up for a holiday run with family and friends, it is important to keep moving! If you haven’t been, now is the time to GET YOUR MOVE BACK. Exercise will allow you to burn those extra calories which have been proven to improve mental health & wellness. This is especially important during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. Research shows you only need to exercise 30-60 minutes, 3-5 times per week to experience these effects of exercise. I have found it incredibly helpful to “challenge” my friends, family, and co-workers to exercise. This keeps me accountable for my personal health/wellness. It also allows you and your loved ones to become healthier!
Change your MINDSET:
Divert your attention. Don’t let food be the star of the show. Instead, focus on your social activity and the people you’re sharing the experience with, whether it’s family members, colleagues or friends. Let the experience this year be what brings you joy & true holiday cheer.