By Caitlyn Kambouroglos, Registered Dietitian
October through January can seem like a challenging time for many people hoping to maintain healthy habits. It starts with football season and pumpkin spice lattes and before you know it you’re celebrating the new year! Now is a great time to set an intention for the holidays before mixed emotions of stress and excitement set in.
6 Tips for a Healthy Holiday
Think about what you have planned for tomorrow and this week. People tend to be busier during this time of year preparing to host family and friends or running extra errands. Think about how you plan to nourish yourself throughout the day. Most people know what their typical on-the go options are. Let’s say your old go-to meal was fast food, but now that no longer aligns with your current goals. Take some time to brainstorm some easy foods you can bring on the go. One of my favorite things to do is pack a lunch box with an ice pack, raw vegetables, hummus, apple slices, a nut butter and turkey slices. You can also keep a shaker bottle with a protein powder in your car. If you choose to stop to pick up lunch, try to prioritize vegetables and protein. If your current habits don’t align with your goals, it may be time to start implementing some new ones.
Picture this: a delicious plate of food is in front of you that you have been looking forward to all day. Before you pick up your fork, start by pausing and taking a deep breath. Take time to sit and enjoy the company that’s around you and allow your brain time to process how full your stomach is. This simple tip, often forgotten, can make a big difference in feeling physically and mentally satisfied off of smaller portions.
Maybe you’re tired of feeling ravenous by the time the holiday meal is served and eating more than what feels comfortable. This is a great opportunity to start a new tradition. Prepare an egg casserole with lots of vegetables to eat as a morning meal. This will leave you feeling more satisfied and make it easier to consume portions at the main meal that don’t leave you feeling uncomfortable.
There is often a decrease in the amount of physical activity we do as we head into the colder months. With fewer daylight hours, it can be more challenging to get up and move. Think about activities or forms of movement you enjoy or would like to try this winter. If you don’t like going to the gym, you can try something as simple as a 10 minute yoga video on YouTube. A great new holiday tradition to start if you haven’t already, is a morning walk before all your festivities start. Don’t forget to bundle up!
Instead of telling yourself you can’t have a food, dessert or beverage you would really enjoy, try to see what nourishing foods you can pair with it. Let’s be honest, whether it’s holiday parties or the tray of cookies at work, it’s no surprise that yummy treats are everywhere this time of year. Start your meal with a healthy protein source like chicken, add some fiber from non-starchy vegetables and some healthy fats like nuts and seeds. This will leave you feeling physically satisfied. When we are physically satisfied it is much easier to choose a couple of those treats and walk away feeling mentally satisfied. Trying to push through and avoid foods will only make you more frustrated.
It can be easy to make food the main focus of every holiday party and event. There is so much more that this time of year has to offer than food. Think about other focus points like spending time with family and friends or giving back to the community. If you haven’t before, try to look at this holiday season from a new lens. Identify activities and traditions you enjoy that don’t center around food. You’d be surprised at how much there is still to look forward to.