As you probably already know, the holiday season is a part of the year when it becomes a real challenge to eat healthy. You get invited to numerous parties, visit relatives that prepare way too much food, and are constantly surrounded by delicious snacks and desserts that everybody sends you (or you make).
When you grab a few drinks at a party and see the delicious varieties of snacks and treats, you immediately forget about your diet and your goals to live a healthier life. According to a report published by the Texas Medical Association, the average American gains around 8 pounds in the time period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.
Before you start planning how to eat healthy during the holidays, know right away that you will constantly be tempted to consume foods and drinks that contain many calories, because no matter where you go, you will always see somebody with a glass of wine or with a box of chocolates.
Even going to your local supermarket will be a challenge, considering that the shelves will be absolutely filled with tempting goodies packaged so well that it will be nearly impossible for you to avoid purchasing them.
Even though the holidays are all about celebrating, drinking, and eating, it is still a stressful time for many people, and you will need energy to cope with it. Don’t think that you’ll feel energized if you drink and eat a lot of unhealthy stuff. Instead, providing your body with all the key nutrients will keep you on your feet.
Remember that beginning to eat healthy is the hardest part. As soon as you get to experience all the benefits that come along with eating healthy, you’ll never want to go back to how you used to eat.
Staying Mindful About What You Eat
Many people are faced with the problem of mindless eating. Consuming food while we watch TV or not even trying to pay attention to the amount of food we put in our plate is a really bad habit.
Staying mindful in what you eat will allow you to live a healthier life and make sure you don’t gain a significant amount of weight.
Mindful eaters form a very special connection with the food they consume, and make sure to enjoy every activity that’s associated with preparing a meal. Learning to enjoy setting the table or washing vegetables will allow you to be more conscious about your food decisions.
Remain mindful at parties and holiday dinners. This maybe difficult when you are conversing with people, but this is the time when you should try the hardest because it is when you are more likely to not notice how much you are eating and overeat.
50 Tips For Healthier Eating During The Holidays
Use Smaller Plates: Believe it or not, plate sizes are constantly expanding. In fact, the Cornell University Applied Economics and Management Department published a study that gives us a closer look at this phenomenon. Whenever we use larger plates, we get a feeling that the portion size of our meals is not that big. This can lead to significant weight gain and overeating. Instead of using the standard 12-inch (or larger) plates, opt for the smaller ones (8-10 inches). When you use a smaller plate and fill it up, it will look like you’re eating a lot, when you really aren’t. This simple trick will make you feel full even if you consume less food.
Consume Fiber: Start consuming more foods that are high in fiber. For example, it’s always a good idea to start eating more vegetables, fruits, and legumes. The great thing about fiber is that it will help you feel full for a long period of time, thus preventing you from snacking on foods out of boredom in the middle of the day.
Ditch Added Sugar: Holiday pies, cookies, and cakes are extremely tempting, but you probably know what will happen when you start eating them. Sugar is very addictive, which makes it very likely that you will overeat on these tasty desserts. Not only will foods that are high in sugar make you gain weight, but they will also increase the risk for cardiovascular disease and other health problems. That’s why it’s much smarter to stick to sugar in its natural form – whole grains, fruits, etc. When you do eat dessert, take one bite of 3 things or 3 bites of one thing and that’s it.
Start Exercising: Exercising during the holiday season is really a no-brainer. If you want to indulge in the sweeter things and celebrate during the holidays, then you need to work it all off in the gym. Engaging in regular physical activity will make you want to start living as healthy as you can, which means that it will motivate you start eating healthier.
Partner Up: Some people have a hard time finding the proper motivation to start working out, especially during the holidays. This is why it would be great if you could convince a friend or family member of your age to start exercising with you. It will be much easier for you to work out, and you’ll even look forward to hitting the gym, because someone you enjoy spending time with will be there as well.
Sleep Smart: The amount of sleep you get has an effect on a lot of things, including your eating habits. The Department of Health Studies of the University of Chicago has linked sleep loss to significant changes in appetite. When you don’t get enough sleep, you’ll be more likely to overeat after waking up.
Stay Positive: We all slip sometimes and eat or drink something that’s not part of our diet. However, you shouldn’t be too hard on yourself. Having a positive outlook on life can be very beneficial when it comes to maintaining your weight. Instead of getting disappointed that you ate too many sweets yesterday, you need to start having positive thoughts, like “I’ll get back on track!” Even though you may think this is silly, you need to try it. You’ll be surprised to find out how a positive outlook will help you avoid weight gain.
Meditate: Most of us have problems with emotional eating. Consuming junk food when we’re sad, angry, or mad is something all of us have done at least once. However, emotional eating will make it incredibly hard for us to reach our weight loss goals. In order to be in better touch with your emotions, you should begin meditating.
Limit Alcohol Consumption: This can be a hard one considering the number of celebrations that go along with the holiday season. However, know that drinking too much alcohol will make you gain weight incredibly fast. First of all, it will add unnecessary calories to your diet. Secondly, it will loosen you up and potentially cause you to overeat at a certain celebration. After a few glasses of beer, wine, or champagne, you’ll simply stop caring about your diet and eat whatever looks appealing to you.
Turn Off The TV While Eating: Ordering a pizza and eating it while watching a football game and drinking a beer definitely sounds great. However, an activity like that will prevent you from being able to lose weight. Even if you’re eating a healthier meal in front of the TV, you still won’t be eating it in a healthy way. A study conducted by Deakin University has linked eating while watching TV to overeating and poor food choices. It’s pretty easy not to pay attention to how much you’re eating while watching a football game or movie. Not to mention that watching commercials for junk foods will potentially make you crave them.
Cut Down On The White Stuff: Products like white bread and refined sugars are known as simple carbs. Although they provide you with energy, simple carbs lack the nutrients that are otherwise found in complex carbohydrates (present in whole grains, potatoes, legumes, etc.). Some simple carbs are good for us, for example, the ones found in low-fat dairy products and fruit. However, they’ll generally make you eat too much throughout the day. Whenever you consume simple carbs, your body will break them down quickly. This will create a spike in your blood sugar, which will make you feel hungry in a relatively short period of time.
Learn How To Decline: Even though some of your relatives or friends might encourage you to eat when you’re visiting them during the holidays, you should learn how to decline. Simply saying, “No thanks, I’m full” will most likely make them back off.
Make Room For Healthy Fats: Despite the myth that fats will make you, well, fatter, you need to start making more room for healthy fats. These healthy fats absorb the fat-soluble vitamins, make us feel full, and provide us with energy.
Host Your Own Party: Whenever you’re going to a party at someone else’s house during the holiday season, you can never expect what is going to be served there. That’s why it’s a good idea to host one or two of your own holiday parties, where you can control exactly what foods and beverages will be served. Who knows, if you make some tasty, healthy appetizers, you may even convince some of your friends that eating healthy during the holidays isn’t as hard as it seems.
Start With Soup Or Salad: If you start your meal off with a green salad or a water-based soup, you’ll eat less during a single sitting. In case you’re going to a holiday event and know there’s not going to be a salad or soup there, eat a plate before heading over there.
Eat Foods You Really Love: We all have our weaknesses. For some it’s chocolate, for others its potato chips. However, sometimes there’s nothing wrong with eating a little junk food. Just make sure you consume something that you really love. Why waste calories on something that you don’t enjoy too much?
Celebrate With Activity: In order to get in the Christmas spirit, call up some of your friends or family members and convince them to take a walk around your neighborhood in order to see all the Christmas lights. Creating holiday traditions filled with physical activity is a surefire way to maintain a healthy weight during the holiday season.
Begin And End Each Day With A Workout: This doesn’t mean that you should work out for an hour upon waking up and before going to bed every day. Performing some type of cardio for 10 minutes at the beginning and end of your day is all you need in order to make sure you’re living healthy. Beginning the day with a workout will provide you with a healthy morning appetite.
Start Chewing More: Most of us swallow our food way too fast. In order to make sure you don’t overeat, you should consume your food slowly and chew more. Remember that the faster you eat, the less time your body will have to register the feeling of fullness.
Keep A Holiday Calendar: Just because you’re supposed to celebrate during the holidays doesn’t mean that you should be at every single party you’re invited to. In order to make sure you’re eating healthy, you need to work on your schedule and make sure you have a few days a week when you’ll stay in.
Keep A Journal: Instead of going with the classic tactic of counting how many calories you’ve consumed and how many you’ve burned, simply write down what you did, and ate every day. When you’re conscious about your own activities, it will be easier for you to start making healthier decisions.
Eat Before Celebrating: If you’re going to a celebration in the evening, you should still eat normally throughout the day. Skipping lunch because you’re going to an event will only make you overeat on the unhealthy stuff when you get there. In fact, if you specifically want to avoid eating unhealthy foods at an event, you should consume a lot of protein before heading out, as the macronutrient will make you feel full and help you fight off the urge to eat junk foods.
Indulge Your Cravings: You’re probably going to like this piece of advice. Sometimes it’s really healthy to indulge your cravings. Many people completely give up on eating junk foods when starting a diet, but more often than not, they succumb to temptation and go overboard within a few days or weeks. In order to make sure that doesn’t happen to you, start strategically planning when and how much junk food you’ll eat.
Drink More Water: When you’re at a party and feeling tempted to drink alcohol, make sure you grab a glass of water that you can sip on frequently. This will prevent the urge to consume drinks that contain a lot of alcohol.
Purchase Plenty Of Tupperware: Everybody stocks up their fridge with numerous different meals and desserts during the holiday season. Moreover, if it’s in your fridge, you’re most likely going to eat it. In order to prevent yourself from overeating on leftovers, make sure you buy plenty of Tupperware and always give your guests some before they leave.
The One-A-Day Rule: If you’re finding it really hard to avoid the unhealthy stuff, then you should try sticking to the one-a-day rule. This rule says that you should limit yourself to one indulgence a day. Therefore, for example, if you have a weak spot for cookies, then you should start consuming only one cookie per day.
Control The Risk For Temptation: If you know that a lot of junk food is found on a specific shelf in your kitchen, then you don’t need to look at it every time when you’re grabbing something from the fridge. Also, avoid placing junk foods on your coffee table or kitchen counter.
Focus On Socializing: Whenever you find yourself at a party, make sure you focus on socializing and not the food and drinks that are being served.
Consume A Lot Of Protein: Eating meals that contain a lot of protein will make it easier for you to avoid overeating because they will make you feel full for a long time period. Consuming large amounts of protein is especially recommended in the morning.
Bring Your Own Food: When someone invites you to a party, you should make a healthy dessert or side dish that you can bring over. This will help you avoid trying to figure out exactly what’s in every other dish there. Not to mention that you will always have a healthy alternative to fall back on.
Serve Meals Restaurant-Style: When you’re serving a meal, make sure you keep the pot in which you’ve prepared it away from arm’s reach. When you have a lot of food on your table, it will be easier for you to overeat. This is why you should put away the pots as soon as you put the food on your plate.
The Seven-A-Day Rule: This is the opposite of the previously mentioned one-a-day rule. If you consume seven or more servings of vegetables and fruit each day, you will never go hungry and feel the need to snack on the unhealthy stuff.
Make A 30-Day Plan: Not having goals and plans will make it easier for you to forget why you’re even trying to eat healthy during the holidays. Make a plan to have three healthy meals prepared every day and stick to it.
Remember Why You’re Trying To Eat Healthy: Whether it’s to reduce the chances of suffering from certain diseases or to avoid gaining a lot of weight (or even to lose any excess weight), you should always remind yourself exactly why you want to eat healthy during the holidays.
Eat Structured Meals: Eating meals that contain all of the key nutrients will make you feel full and lower your temptations for the unhealthy snacks.
Don’t Skip Meals: Sometimes, you may have too many errands to run or simply too much work to do, so you have no choice but to skip a meal. However, make sure that this doesn’t happen too often. Whenever you skip a meal, you’ll be tempted to eat way too many calories by consuming a lot of treats to satisfy your hunger.
Pack A Healthy Snack: Picture yourself incredibly hungry and around you, there are only fast food restaurants. If you’re not prepared for a situation like that, then you won’t be able to make a healthy decision sometimes. This is why it’s always smart to prepare a healthy snack to carry with you wherever you go.
Modify Your Eating Habits: Let’s say that you’re staying at your relatives’ house for a few days during the holiday season. However, what you find out is that they have completely different eating habits than you. They wake up at around 11 a.m., while you usually wake up 3 hours earlier. They serve breakfast at noon, while you’re used to eating at 8:30 a.m. In order to prevent yourself from overeating, you should pay attention to their eating habits, and try to adapt to them. If you wake up at 8 in the morning and know that breakfast won’t be served for another 4 hours, make sure you grab a healthy snack to keep your blood sugar steady.
Pour The Sauces And Gravy Lightly: You can’t really control what’s going to be served at a holiday meal, but you can make it slightly healthier by avoiding pouring gravy or a sauce over it. If you simply can’t resist gravy, then make sure you pour just a small amount.
Take Up A Hobby: Chances are that you’re going to have more free time during the holiday season. If that’s the case, then you should take up a new hobby. By occupying yourself with something to do, you’ll take the focus off food and drinks, thus preventing yourself from overeating.
Toast The New Year With One Glass Of Champagne: Just because you’re celebrating doesn’t mean that it’s time to completely forget about your diet and living the healthy life. However, there are times when it wouldn’t be right if you didn’t toast. The next time you find yourself at a New Year’s Eve party, you should consider toasting with only one glass of champagne. Before you even think about drinking some other alcoholic beverages as well, know that there are 170 calories in a pint of stout beer, 89 calories in a glass of champagne, and 55 calories in a shot of vodka.
Alternate Alcoholic Drinks With Sparkling Water: Pouring some sparkling water in a cocktail is a great way to cut down on calories.
Throw Away All The Unhealthy Foods: If you don’t have any unhealthy foods near you, then there won’t be a way to consume them, right? One of the best ways to ensure you eat healthy is to have only healthy foods in your home.
Stop Finishing Your Plate: Obviously, this would be rude to do if you’re a guest in someone’s home, but it’s something that you can do at home. Instead of finishing your plate like you would normally do, throw away those last few bites on the plate (or save them in the fridge for later).
Ask Yourself If You’re Really Hungry: Sometimes it may feel like you’re hungry when, in fact, you’re only dehydrated. Before you decide to grab something to eat, make sure you ask yourself if you’re really hungry. The next time you grab a cookie, ask yourself if you would be in the mood for a vegetable or fruit at the moment. If the answer is no, then you should put the cookie down, because you’re not really hungry.
Try The “Eating Pause:” When you prepare your next meal, you should try taking a small break from eating right in the middle of your plate. After a few minutes pass, look down at your plate and ask yourself if you’re full or not. If you come to the realization that you don’t really need to continue eating, then you should stop.
Review Your Cooking Methods: There are numerous ways to start cooking healthier. For example, you can start cooking with the healthier oils, such as canola or coconut oil. Another great tip is to grill your food instead of frying it.
Try The 80/20 Rule: If you’re finding it really hard to completely avoid unhealthy foods, you can try the 80/20 rule. This rule says that 80% of your intake should come from healthy food, while the other 20% can be less healthy or unhealthy. This rule can also be a great way to reduce the intake of unhealthy foods over time, and can even help you stop consuming them completely.
You Don’t Have To Feel Full: Most people aren’t aware of the fact that in order to eat healthy, you should stop eating before you feel full. In fact, you should aim for about 70% fullness.
Sneak In The Veggies: It’s easy to sneak vegetables into potato dishes and pasta, or even casseroles and baked goods. Snacking on veggies is a surefire way to avoid significant weight gain. When you eat them regularly, you will increase you fiber intake, which will help make you feel full for a longer time period.
The holidays are a time when you’re constantly surrounded by delicious treats and snacks that can potentially leave you with several additional pounds. Not to mention that sugary foods and alcohol consumption can increase the risk of some serious health problems.
This is why you should find ways to eat healthy during the holidays. Know that you will still be able celebrate and indulge, but moderation is key!
Even though it might seem like it’s impossible, it really isn’t.
Thankfully, there are numerous tips that you can try out during these holiday season, which will surely help you maintain a healthier lifestyle.