The holidays have arrived— the time of year when we get together with family and friends to celebrate! Since many holiday festivities center around food, this time of year can be challenging for those attempting to eat healthy. However, going into the holidays with a plan and knowing what choices to make will help alleviate this added stress. Read on for a registered dietitian’s healthy eating holiday tips to navigate the holidays this year.
- Start your day with a healthy breakfast. Many people want to “save room” for the big holiday meals they are about to enjoy— sacrificing nutrition throughout the day. It is important to remember to maintain adequate nutrition and hydration during the day to maintain blood sugar levels, and prevent overeating later in the day.
- Loop the buffet. If you are at a gathering with a self-serve option, scope out your options. If there are foods that you know you look forward to having during the holidays, make sure to go for those options first. You can construct your meal with the foods you absolutely want and not end up with extras you may feel obligated to pick. If there are many options that you look to enjoy, start with a small portion of each. Wait a few minutes after you are finished eating, and if there is something you want more of, honor that choice. After all, the holidays only come around once a year! Having smaller portions of multiple items can ensure that you are satisfied and not craving more, which can lead to overeating, feeling bloated, and sluggish.
- Bring a healthy dish. When attending a party or gathering at a friend or family member’s home, volunteer to bring a dish. This way you can prepare something you know is a healthy option. So if you get to the party and realize there are no healthy options to choose from, you know you have your accompaniment to enjoy. You can also pair it with the other foods you like to eat this time of year.
- Provide healthy options. If you are hosting this year, be sure to provide healthy options for you and your guests to enjoy. Adding fruits or vegetables to your appetizer menu with a dip or spread can encourage everyone to make a healthy choice. Also be sure to include water, in addition to other non-alcoholic options, to ensure you are staying hydrated. This can also help control hunger and prevent overeating.
- Incorporate activity. To help promote digestion, incorporate movement after you eat. This can look different for everyone. Maybe step outside for some fresh air with a friend and walk and talk for a few minutes. Consider walking the family dog. Or volunteer to help wash dishes. This way you are including some type of movement to promote digestion of the big meal you ate!
- Remember why you are there: to spend quality time with those you love. Try to make a point of focusing on the experience and enjoying the time you are spending with the people you care about most. When you make it less about food, you may be less likely to overindulge.