The holiday season is upon us and you know what that means…lots of sweets, treats, alcohol and no routine! It’s the perfect combination to throw off even the most health-contentious person!
I am not saying you have to be perfect over the holidays, because I don’t believe that complete deprivation of all treats is the solution to a healthy and happy life. However, there are a few small tips and tricks that you can put in place so you can indulge without going up a pant size over the holidays.
Here are my top tips to help get you through!
TIP # 1: Survey the whole food selection before filling your plate. Knowing the entire selection will allow you to fill up on the foods you love and leave the ones you don’t, instead of adding everything to your plate.
TIP #2: Be mindful of your portion sizes and the macronutrients (protein, carbs and fats) you are taking in. The same eating principles apply to your holiday meals. Each meal needs to have at least 2 servings of veggies and a serving of protein. This will help to keep you feeling full longer and prevent you from having blood sugar spikes and dips from only carb based foods (ex. potatoes, stuffing).
Tip # 3: Take 10 minutes before going back for seconds. It can take your brain 10 to 20 minutes from the time you start eating to get the signal that your stomach is full. Give your brain a chance to catch up and then decide if you are still hungry and need more food.
Tip # 4: Avoid trigger foods and incorporate buffer foods. A trigger food is a food that you just can’t seem to have a little bit of. Instead once you have a taste you end up binging on this food. A buffer food is a food that is very satisfying to you but you can have a little bit and then stop yourself from over consuming this food. These buffer foods are helpful because they stop you from feeling deprived but also stop you from overeating.
Tip # 5: Stay hydrated. In the busyness of the holiday season it can be easy to forget to drink water. Our bodies can confuse dehydration with hunger. Try having a glass of water before going back for seconds or leftovers.
Tip # 6: Out of site out of mind. Try to avoid standing next to the food table, especially not the desserts and treats. If the food is right there you will be more likely to consume it. Also, once the meal and dessert is finished, put these foods away making it less convenient to have access to them.
Tip # 7: Keep to your regular exercise routine. The more you can do to keep in routine in terms of exercise and eating patterns, the better you will feel over the holidays and the less likely you will be to overeat. Exercise is also helpful to reduce stress, which always seems to ramp up over the holidays.
Tip # 8: Make sure you get sleep. Studies have shown that when people are sleep deprived it leads to overeating and poor food choices. Be sure to take time to wind down before bed and to avoid bright lights and stimulating activities that might keep you up later or prevent you from getting quality sleep.
Tip # 9: Check in on your stress levels. This time of year can be an emotionally driven and overwhelming for some people. Be sure to check in on how you are feeling physically, emotionally and mentally a couple times a day. If you feel like you are overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to take a quick breather by yourself by going to a quiet room or going outside for some fresh air.
Tip # 10: Remember what the season is all about. It is easy to get caught up with the food, drinks and gifts of the holiday season. However, it’s really about spending quality time with the people that we love. Try to make this your focus. You can even find activities that don’t involve foods that brings you closer together with your loved one.
Tip # 11: Last but probably the most important…Leave the guilt behind. When people don’t follow through with their intended plans they often feel guilty and engage in self-judgement. Just remember no one is perfect and even if you overindulge over the holidays there is always an opportunity to get back on track the next day. Choosing to make yourself out as a bad person in your mind doesn’t help the situation any! Instead just enjoy the good food and the good company and know tomorrow is a new day!
Happy Holidays! I hope you enjoy the season and the time with your loved ones.
~Dr. Rosie, ND