The holiday season does not have to mean rigidity and food rules, but it also doesn’t have to be a free-for-all either. There can certainly be a happy medium of healthful enjoyment. Here are some tips to help stay on track while enjoying the holidays.
Remember your eating habits that have helped you thus far
Just because it can be a chaotic time of year, it does not mean that your nutrition should feel the same. Try to maintain consistency with things that make you feel your This could mean remembering to start the day off with a nutritious breakfast, enjoy balanced snacks between meals, staying hydrated, etc.
Plan ahead for success
One can easily put a tremendous amount of energy into planning for family gatherings and cookie-swaps and seemingly forget about one’s own day-to-day meals and snacks. Remember to set yourself up for success through meal prep and/or menu-planning to avoid last-minute stressors of ‘what am I going to eat for dinner?’. Try to be realistic and establish a game-plan for the week. What can be the most helpful is to look at your calendar to help decide what you have the time/ability to cook during your week vs. items you want to eat that week. Whether you decide to cook food ahead or simply purchase some ready-prepared food to heat-and-eat, both options will save you time and potential stress as well as assurance that you have not lost sight of yourself amidst the holiday chaos.
Start your day off with some activity
Whether a light walk around the neighborhood with friends or a workout video at home, try breaking a sweat! It will give you both an energy boost for the busy day as well as get some endorphins going to start your day off on a positive note.
Listen to hunger/satiety cues and honor them
Try to practice mindful eating and encourage listening to your hunger/satiety cues. Check in with yourself periodically to ask, ‘How am I feeling? Am I hungry? Am I bored? Am I comfortably full?’. By being more attentive to how to food makes you feel, you will be more apt to make smarter choices that make you feel better in the long term.
One of the most important lessons to remember at the holiday table: do not feel guilty!
There are absolutely going to be days/times when you overdo it. Remember, your next meal is your next meal, tomorrow is a new day…meaning to say enjoy your holiday, acknowledge that you ate past the point of fullness or maybe just indulged more than usual, and move past it! Most foods, routines, and/or structure is only temporary while you are celebrating the holidays. Your goal is to enjoy yourself while navigating healthier options/choices that help you to feel your best and reach your nutrition goals. Not feeling so great after an indulgent meal? Try to opt for nutritious choices at your next meal/snack to get back on track but try not to dwell on the past.
Written by Madison Rochford – Dietetic Intern