6 Tips for Healthy Holiday Eating
Healthy holiday eating tips are easy to find, but often the focus is on how to reduce the size of your plate, or offer recipes that try to make mashed potatoes using water instead of cream. However, when I work one-on-one with my clients, the best tips we discuss are all about their headspace around holiday eating. The six tips below are to help you approach healthy holiday eating with your mental and physical health in mind.
Tune into your body
Bringing awareness to your body can help you make informed mindful eating choices based on your body’s needs. Here are some great questions to ask yourself:
- How hungry do I feel? Are you stuffed from a big meal? Feeling a tinge of hunger? These feelings can drive what you choose to eat, and how much to consume.
- Would I rather eat something else? This can be a sign that the food in question is not actually what you are craving, and thus, won’t be that satisfying, which may lead to you going back for more later.
- Is this one of my favorites? Sometimes we eat because of environmental cues like an office party. Pause and check in with the food; is it what you want or is it “just there”?
Survey the food options
Attending gatherings with many food options can be overwhelming and healthy holiday eating can feel out of reach with a table full of food. When you arrive at a party, ask yourself the following questions:
- What foods can I use to build a meal?
- What desserts look incredibly tasty?
- Do I want dessert?
- What sides can I pair to make a satisfying snack?
Ditch the guilt
Give yourself the permission to enjoy your favorite items; the world will not end if you have another cookie, the sky will not fall over pumpkin pie. Overeating may happen around the holidays, and if it does, that’s okay, try your best to not beat yourself up. Explore your experience with curiosity and try to identify any triggers: stress, boredom, overwhelm, anxiety, happiness, or loneliness. If you can start to learn the patterns of your own eating, you can learn how to avoid feeling uncomfortable after a meal in the future.
Don’t skip meals or restrict your normal intake
Restricting your calories sets you up for a binge on holiday treats. When you undereat, the hunger experienced feels out of control, urgent, and often associated with craving higher sugar or high salt foods. Eat three balanced meals per day and a few snacks to ensure your body is getting the nutrition it needs.
Practice mindful eating
Staying mindful while eating can help you monitor how full you are feeling and allow you to truly enjoy the food. Take a deep breath before you eat and focus on every bite. Tuning into our food helps to prevent us overeating and grants us the mental space to feel emotionally satisfied by the food we love!
A healthy lifestyle happens all year round, and it may look different around the holidays—which is okay! Taking the time to implement the tips above will help you enjoy the foods you love the most and will allow for more mindfulness, joy, and a guilt-free holiday season.
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Staci Belcher, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
As Farmview's Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Staci teaches clients to optimize their health through actionable, realistic steps. She takes a holistic approach to behavior change and works to teach clients how to create habits that fill their plate, calm their mind, and nourish their body. Staci is passionate about local, real food, a great yoga class, and an iced coffee on a hot summer day.