Smart Healthy Eating Strategies to Get You Through the Holidays

healthy eating

 

The holidays are quickly approaching, which means it’s time to plan your healthy eating strategy for the season. Because most holidays are food-focused, they can cause a large intake of calories and throw your otherwise-healthy lifestyle off track.

Prevent the holidays from sabotaging your healthy lifestyle by putting a plan in place for handling all the extra food and drinks that will come your way during the season. Follow the tips below to celebrate guilt-free!

Plan activities that don’t center on food

Whether you’re hosting a holiday gathering or going to someone else’s house, keep some activities in your back pocket to take you away from the snack table. For example, bring a few favorite board games or set up some simple physical activities that children and adults can enjoy, like a bean bag toss or a relay race.

If you enjoy running or walking, sign your family up for a local 5K event. There are always a ton of turkey trots, jingle bell 5Ks and other holiday-themed races at this time of year. If you’ve never done one, you’ll be hooked after your first race!

Not only will these ideas get your mind off food, but they’ll give everyone something fun to do together. And isn’t that really what the holidays are about?

Avoid skipping meals

Many people make the mistake of skipping meals on the day of a holiday party to “save” their calories for the event. Skipping meals is unhealthy, however, as it leads to poor food choices and often results in overeating.

Instead, eat small meals and snacks throughout the day to keep your blood sugar levels stable and your appetite controlled. When you get to the party, you won’t risk derailing your diet because you’re starving.

Practice mindful eating

The most important thing to practice is being mindful about your food choices and portion control. When you’re mindful about selecting your food, you’ll choose a satisfying portion instead of piling your plate high. You’ll take a small amount of an “indulgent” food to enjoy and balance it out with healthier foods, rather than filling your entire plate with unhealthy choices.

The best part of mindful eating? When you pay attention to what you eat, you’ll actually taste and appreciate your food! Eating mindlessly, on the other hand, always results in the realization that you didn’t enjoy the ton of calories you just consumed.

Make food swaps

As you make your holiday cooking plan, choose your ingredients carefully to keep your dishes on the healthier side. For example, prepare traditional stuffing with whole wheat or whole grain bread rather than white bread. Make a cauliflower mash in place of the traditional mashed potatoes. Substitute whole-wheat flour in place of all-purpose flour in your favorite baking recipes.

Limit your cocktail consumption

The empty calories in alcoholic beverages add up. If you want to enjoy your favorite cocktail occasionally throughout the season without overdoing it, add some mineral water or seltzer to it to keep it light.

 

While food and drinks are certainly a great part of the festivities, holiday celebrations are not just about eating. Focus on the joyous, giving spirit of the season and enjoy spending time with your family, friends and colleagues.


Avoid Emotional Eating During the Holidays

emotional eating

The holidays can be a time of love and togetherness, but it can also be time of stress. Whether you’re worried about holiday shopping, hosting your family or pressures at work, it can be easy to let your emotions take over your eating habits during this time of year.

So how can you get through the holidays without sabotaging your weight loss efforts? Read on to learn how you can curb your cravings and put a stop to emotional eating this holiday season.

Identify why you’re eating emotionally

It’s easy to say, “I’m feeling stressed, so I’m going to eat some comfort food to make me feel better.” But don’t expect it to work. People tend to eat emotionally to distract themselves from a particular emotion. Emotional eating won’t make your feelings go away — it will simply postpone the inevitable.

When you find yourself reaching for a plate of Christmas cookies instead of confronting stressful feelings, set a timer for 5 minutes and spend that time allowing yourself to feel those feelings. Identify exactly what is stressing you out or making you feel sad or angry. Finally, come up with some concrete ways you can deal with the circumstances causing those emotions — and no, digging into another piece of pie doesn’t count!

When the timer dings, you’ll have resisted the impulse to emotionally eat and equipped yourself with some actionable solutions to your problems.

Upgrade your cravings

If you’re still feeling hungry after confronting your feelings, go ahead and eat a healthy meal or snack. This is always preferable to going hungry, which will just backfire and increase your cravings.

If you’re craving a certain kind of food in particular, just upgrade to a healthier version of that item. For example, if you’re just dying for some pizza, try making a homemade version with whole wheat crust, shredded chicken, tomato sauce and just a bit of low-fat mozzarella. You’ll satisfy your cravings without all the guilt.