So let me preface this by saying I’m all about enjoying the holidays not spendng them feeling restricted & limited. So this is not going to be a “pack a salad, pick ONLY ONE dessert and have a tiny bite” kind of list. I want you to be able to eat what you want and actually enjoy yourself. Yes portions will be considered but that doesn’t mean skipping your turkey or tofurkey dinner!
So without further ado let’s start working on a healthier holiday season!
Don’t skip meals!
So many people way up on Thanksgiving & Christmas day decided to skip breakfast an lunch to “save calories”. Here’s the problem with this approach. Yes in theory that means you go into the meal with well over 1000 calories to play with, but guess what? It’s really easy to consume 2000 or even 3000 calories in a holiday meal with all the rich, decadent food you’re served. And to make matters worse, did you know there’s actually a pretty significant delay between the time your stomach is full and you actually feeling full? It’s about 20 minutes. I don’t know about you but if I’ve been starving myself all day and I walk into a meal ravenously hungry….I can clean a plate in about 5mins flat. So instead of skipping meals eat as you normally would so you’re not walking up to a buffet with your hunger goggles on.
This is pretty simple, just make sure you’re drinking water all day. Don’t over do it, just your normal 8 glasses. If you don’t normally drink enough water the day of a big meal is a good time to start. Another fun fact about hunger cues is that our brains can actually differentiate between hunger & thirst. Both feel exactly the same until other signs of thirst like dry mouth, increase body temperature, etc. start to appear. Drinking water helps to regulate appetite & be sure that what feels like hunger is actually hunger
Be a Good Guest
So many of these “Healthy Holiday” lists will suggest bringing your own healthy snack or dish. Unfortunately suggestions are often things like “a veggie platter” or “a salad’, but unless you genuinely enjoy veggies & hummus more than pumpkin pie & potatoes with gravy, those options probably won’t help much. Instead scour the internet for healthy recipes that you actually want to eat and bring that. And remember to make big enough portions to share you wouldn’t want to run out of your healthy dish too soon!
Like I said, I don’t believe in restriction, especially not during the holidays. Instead I’m a big fan of creating a sampler platter or yourself. So your first plate should be a tiny sliver or spoonful of everything in front of you. Don’t worry about a full plate just yet, this is your time to get to try everything and decide what’s worth eating more of. This prevents us from getting a full sized serving of something that’s ok at best but still eating all of out to avoid waste or feeling rude. Sure people may ask about your teeny portions but chances are when you tell them it’s your “test run” they’ll laugh it off & move on. Taste testing prevents you from feeling frustrated because you missed out on certain foods.
Remember Your Rainbow
Now of course holiday meals aren’t always the most balanced but just do your best to build a colorful plate. Doing this will help you manage your portions and prioritize the foods that will help you not only feel full without feeling left out! Within some of the common holiday foods, perhaps your plate can look something like this:
A spoonful of cranberry sauce (red)
- A small slice of sweet potato casserole (orange)
- A small corn on the cob, light on the butter (yellow)
- A half serving of greens beans (green),
- And if you can find some maybe a small bowl full of berries (blues & purples)
- After that just fill what’s left of your plate with your protein & fun stuff
If your holiday parties serve alcohol this is where we have to pick and choose just a little bit. Again, don’t restrict or skip things you enjoy but try to stick to one serving of the more heavy or decadent drinks & cocktails. If you’re comfortable switching to water for the rest of the day great, if not choose a lighter option for your “sipping beverage”. Maybe a light cider or beer or some low cal wine. This is also a great BYOB opportunity to ensure you enjoy yourself. And of course to avoid drinking most of your calories have a glass of water for every alcoholic drink.
If you prioritize these 6 tips not only will you have a healthier holiday season, you won’t end up feeling miserable & restricted for the next 3 months!
“Strength doesn’t come from what you can do. It comes from overcoming the things you once thought you couldn’t.” – Rikki Rogers