Food is an important part of many holiday celebrations and cultural traditions. Special occasions often center around food, making it easy to overeat or indulge in foods that are not part of our usual healthy eating plan. Consider these 8 tips to fully enjoy the holiday season without gaining weight or stressing about holiday eating:
1. Plan to NOT diet after the New Year - The anticipation of food restriction can set you up for binge eating over the holidays. Besides, restrictive diets don't work in the long run. They create a poor relationship with food, wreck metabolism, cause stress and anxiety, and increase the likelihood of regaining weight later.
2. Schedule physical activity like it's a mandatory meeting - You will thank yourself. Even a brisk walk helps relieve stress, regulate appetite, and burn up any extra calories consumed from holiday eating. Protect your exercise routine from being affected by your holiday schedule. This will also prevent you from having to "get back into it" after the New Year.
3. Eat a nutrient-dense and protein-packed snack before going to holiday parties - Arriving at a party hungry is never a good idea. You will be more likely to make unhealthy food choices and less likely to resist temptation.
4. Make a plan - Think about who you'll be with, where you'll be, what foods will be available, what you want to eat and what you could do without. Find out what your triggers are to overeat or make poor choices and what you can do to minimize them. Once you've thought about these things and make a plan of action, it's much easier to deal with a difficult social eating situation.
5. Avoid recreational eating - Consciously make a plate of foods you want and eat it slowly. Chew each bite 30 times to enjoy it and savor every bite. This also aids digestion, helps you assimilate more nutrients from your food, and causes you to feel fuller eating less food. When you finish your plate, pop in a mint or piece of gum and position yourself away from the buffet or food trays.
6. Choose beverages wisely - Alcohol is high in calories. Liquors, mixed drinks, and sweet wines contain 150-450 calories per glass. If you choose to drink, select drinks with lower carbs like red wine or spirits mixed with soda water and lime or kombucha. Watch out for calories in sodas and fruit juices.
7. Utilize a digestive enzyme and probiotic - Especially if you're eating foods outside of your normal diet and if your sugar intake increases. This will help cut down on bloating and indigestion and prevent an overgrowth of things like candida from occuring.
8. Enjoy friends and family - Food doesn't have to be the focus. Reunite with good friends and family, share laughs, celebrate, express gratitude and have fun. Focus more on these positive holiday experiences and remember that if you eat too much at a holiday party it's ok. Put it behind you and return to your usual eating plan the next day without guilt or despair.
Now I’d love to hear from you. Have you tried incorporating some of these digestive tips over the holiday season? What have you noticed? Share and let me know!