Written by Morgan Skatz, RD, LDN
The holidays are officially here! When the holidays are here large meals and tasty treats often accompany them. This wonderful time does not have to mean that all healthy behaviors are abandoned until the new year. Here are some tips to help you feel your best during all holiday meals this season.
Don’t save up for the big meal.
It is important to eat regular meals and snacks leading up to a big meal. When we try to save up our hunger or calories for a large meal, we are more likely to show up to that meal ravenous. Feeling ravenous can easily overpower feelings of true hunger and fullness. When this happens, it can be very hard to control hunger and cravings, often leading to overeating and a stomachache. Alternatively, eating regularly leading up to the meals allows you to show up to the meal at a comfortable place and fully enjoy the meal by choosing foods you really want and being able to stop eating when you are satisfied instead of stuffed.
Include two Ps at every meal.
Protein and produce. Protein helps keep us full. Including it at every meal will help prevent hunger and mindless eating in between meals. Some examples of protein are fish, turkey, ham, chicken, beef, eggs, beans, tofu, breakfast meats, milk, and Greek yogurt.
Produce, meaning fruit and vegetables, provides fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Fiber helps control blood sugar which is important as we’re surrounded by many treats this time of year. It also helps with digestion which some people may struggle with during this time of chaotic schedules and eating out often. The abundant vitamins and minerals can support a healthy immune system this time of year and help make up for high intakes of other food they may be lacking in these nutrients.
Do your best to keep up with a workout routine you enjoy while remembering that all movement counts! Many holiday activities are also forms of exercise - ice skating, walking the streets to see Christmas lights, playing in the snow (if you’re lucky enough to live somewhere that is snows this time of year), even shopping can be a workout when you’re doing it in-person. Continuing to exercise throughout the holiday season is going to help you maintain healthy habits and feel your best.
Enjoy the food.
You do not need to avoid your favorite holiday food and you should not avoid them. The holidays are a temporary time. Most of the food served during this time is not only delicious but associated with good people and good memories. Let yourself enjoy them! Eat slowly and notice the taste. I even recommend keeping these foods in your house and accepting leftovers so you can enjoy them every day. When we only allow ourselves to eat, for example, peppermint bark at our friend’s holiday party we are more likely
to eat TONS of it because the scarcity mindset tells us we do not know when this food will show up again. Alternatively, if you keep peppermint bark in your house to enjoy when you want it you can savor it more and not feel out of control around it because you know it will show up again soon.
The holidays are meant to be a fun time! Do not stress out over what you are eating. Do your best to eat protein and produce with meals, eat regularly leading up to big meals, and make sure to enjoy your favorite foods. Additionally, prioritize continuing to move your body regularly and you are sure to feel your best throughout the holidays!
Written by Morgan Skatz, RD, LDN