The weather is getting colder and the holiday season is rapidly approaching. For many people, this is the time of year that any routine of healthy eating or dieting can fly out the window faster than a turkey before Thanksgiving. Whether your holiday meals are sit-down or buffet style, these celebrations can offer more choices than usual. (And, of course, you want to try everything!) As you plan for special events, keep the following tips in mind so you can enjoy yourself and stay on track.
With temptation all around, here are 5 helpful tips for eating mindfully and healthfully this holiday season:
Go in with a Plan
A few days before attending a holiday meal, reach out to the host and find out what’s on the menu. By planning ahead, you don’t have to be rushed into making a decision and can even offer to bring a healthy dish you will be happy to eat and to share. If you are not able to prepare ahead of time, take a minute to survey the spread before making up your plate. By giving yourself time to think about your meal, you will be able to strategize and prioritize which foods you will enjoy most and which foods you can pass by.
Be Mindful of “MyPlate”
Before serving yourself, take a second to think about what your plate should look like. As you build your meal, start with the vegetables and fill up half of your plate. Add protein to one remaining quarter and starches to the other. Feel free to try any or all of the delicious options in front of you, (just try not to pile foods on top of one another), and keep the portion of each type of food in its designated spot. And remember, vegetables like potatoes, yams, squash, peas, and corn are starchy and should be chosen in consideration with your other selections in mind.
Eat Off of a Salad Plate
When serving yourself appetizers, the main meal, or dessert, eat off of a small plate. By putting your food on a smaller plate, it will not only be easier for you to keep portion sizes appropriate (especially with desserts), but you can trick your brain into being satisfied with a more appropriate amount.
Rethink your Drink
Often we don’t think about the amount of added sugar and empty calories that can fill up our glass during the holidays. And when we are preoccupied with spending time with family and friends, it's easy to not even notice how quickly those calories can go down. Since liquids don’t often give you that full feeling, be mindful about what and how much you are drinking. Arrive at your party well hydrated by drinking water throughout the day. During the celebration choose lighter options, or alternate higher calorie drinks with a full glass of water.
Listen to your Body
With all of this delicious food in front of you, it is easy to ignore your fullness cues. Be conscious of how quickly you are eating and drinking. Before going back for seconds, check in with your body and give your brain at least 10 minutes to catch up to your stomach (while sipping water). If you are still hungry after that, go for another serving of vegetables..
The holidays are a wonderful time to celebrate with family and friends, so enjoy every moment and every bite. Food is an integral part of all celebrations, and trying to be overly strict or restrictive during this time of year can make you feel a bit like The Grinch. By making a few small changes in your approach to the holiday table, you can enjoy the time spent with those you love - and the delicious food that goes with it - without sacrificing your health goals!