The holiday season can be a time of joy, twinkling lights, warm sweaters and special recipes. It can also be a time of stress and uncertainty, especially surrounding staying healthy. The task of staying true to diets while also trying to enjoy favorite, decade-long family recipes can be daunting. Although turning the calendar to the holiday season should not mean giving up on your goals, it is also not the time to deprive yourself from celebration. Food is much more than just calories and satisfaction, it is comfort and nostalgia. Food brings families together, draws smiles to stressful gatherings, and causes everyone to sit down and have something in common.
The holidays are a season of splurging (yes, indulging is permissible), but that doesn’t mean you can’t also practice healthy eating. Holding true to healthy habits through the season of temptations might seem tough, but there are simple ways to find balance that don’t require an “all or nothing” approach.
- Eat breakfast and lunch as usual before heading into a big feast. Some say to skip meals to “prepare” or “save up” for a calorie coma, however, when you deprive yourself, you are more likely to overeat at dinner. Instead, prepare by eating something nutritious, hydrating and getting active!
- Keep ingredients fresh. Instead of making store-bought mashed potatoes or stuffing, make it homemade so you control the ingredients. Homemade versions of holiday classics are usually lighter, higher quality, more tasty, and have less sodium.
- Survey the appetizer table first before diving in. Find your favorites and avoid filling up mindlessly on “fillers” just because they are there.
- When approaching an eating opportunity, ask yourself, “Am I hungry?” If you are truly hungry, give yourself full permission to eat. If you’re not hungry or only slightly hungry, then eat a small amount or find an alternative activity. Eating when you’re not hungry can lead to an uncomfortable fullness (if you’re not hungry when you start, how do you know when to stop?).
- Eat slowly and savor every bite. When you eat mindfully, you can find more pleasure from each bite and find satisfaction sooner. When you eat slowly, you can feel satisfaction click in before it’s too late and you’re too full.
For delicious recipes, nutrition tips, and to find cooking and nutrition classes, go to the Kendall Reagan Nutrition Center website. More great info is also available at the College of Health and Human Sciences Pinterest board.