For many the holiday season is the most wonderful time of the year. However, this is also a time when temptation to overindulge in holiday foods can put our healthy eating momentum, practices, and results in jeopardy.
Here are some helpful tips and tricks aimed at navigating the holiday season successfully so that we enter the New Year strong and ready, with no “detox” or “diet” needed:
AGATHE HOLOWATINC, CERTIFIED INTEGRATIVE NUTRITION HEALTH COACH FROM FUELLED BERMUDA
1. Eat a FUELLED (nutrient-loaded) breakfast and lunch and do not arrive hungry to the party. Skipping meals and “saving” calories for a later time wreaks havoc on our metabolism, blood sugar levels, and waistline which often leads to overindulging on unhealthy foods that compromise our optimal health. Healthy fats, fibre, and healthy sources of protein during regular mealtimes help keep cravings at bay.
2. Hold your drink in your dominant hand. This way, we are left to use our less capable hand to pick up the tempting appetizers and desserts. These foods typically hold little nutritional value, so this helps you to cut down as it makes it more challenging to eat (and potentially even much less elegant), so you’ll quit sooner.
3. Savour it slowly. We get the most pleasure from the first 2 bites of anything we eat. When savoured slowly and mindfully we can extract the most pleasure from our food whilst leaving the bulk of the item (and its unnecessary calories) on our plate. Utilizing this hack, you’ll still be able to say that you truly enjoyed the incredible flavours that the holiday season has to offer without it affecting your waistline.
4. Stay hydrated (Drink plenty of water)! We will eat less, keep our digestive tract primed and regular, and feel much more energized when we remember to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water during the holiday season. This will prevent us from feeling drained and depleted so that we make better decisions at the holiday dinner table. Much of the time, we are dehydrated and not hungry.
5. Forget the food & focus on the people, the ambiance, the conversations, and the memories! Since we ate healthily all day and are not in a hungry state of desperation, we can shift our focus to all the other aspects of merrymaking that can truly nourish us at an even deeper level – mind, body, and soul. The holidays are filled with warm hugs, friends and family, happy holiday energy, and a cheerful, comforting ambiance that only happens once a year. Fill up on it!
6. Check in with yourself. Do an honest self-assessment and take inventory of every area of your life (i.e., finances, relationships, work) that is not nourishing you right now. Eating and drinking can be used to fill the “nourishment void”, where much healthier and life-expanding ways to tackle those gaps can be sought out. For optimal success, set up a few sessions with your therapist and your Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach to help you tune into your body and your life prior to party season.
For additional tips from Coach Agathe herself, FUELLED is holding a FREE 60 minute “Healthy During the Holidays” Virtual Class this month. Check out their website www.fuelledlife.com for the date and details.
ARLENE MACGUINNESS, REGISTERED DIETICIAN AT ANEW
1. Prioritize balanced, regular meals. One of the best ways to create delicious and balanced meals is to use “The Plate Method”:
a. Start with an 8 or 9-inch plate.
b. Fill half your plate with non-starchy vegetables, such as salad, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and carrots.
c. Fill one quarter of your plate with lean protein, such as chicken, turkey, beans, lentils, tofu, or eggs.
d. Fill the remaining quarter of your plate with a grain or starchy food, such as potatoes, rice, or pasta. Choose whole grains more often.
2. Drop out of the clean plate club. It’s perfectly acceptable to leave a few bites of food behind, especially if you are eating something that doesn’t taste as good as you expected.
3. Discover the satisfaction factor. Tune into your own hunger and satiety cues. Somewhere in between completely depriving yourself and completely overdoing it is the sweet spot – not too much and not too little. Your goal should be to leave most get-togethers feeling satisfied and not uncomfortably stuffed.
4. Be a food snob. Eat what you really love and skip anything that isn’t fabulous! Give yourself permission to have a taste of your favorite foods without the guilt so you don’t feel deprived.
5. Eat mindfully. Slow down and sensuously savor one small bite at a time, appreciating the appearance, aromas, flavors, and textures of your favorite foods as you eat them.
6. Prioritize sleep. Not getting enough sleep is associated with increased hunger, higher blood sugars, poor concentration, more illness, and impaired problem solving. Giving yourself the gift of at least 7 hours of sleep a night will help you make the best choices for your health and will protect against illness and fatigue.
7. Keep active and work towards 30 minutes of physical activity a day. If you put your workout in your calendar, you make it as important as any other activity that’s on your to-do list! Even if your scheduled workout plans get derailed, you can still get creative and find ways to be active. A few ideas to keep you moving include inviting friends and family to join you for an after-meal walk instead of plopping on the couch, playing catch or Frisbee, and putting on some music and having a dance party. Pick activities that you enjoy!
8. Take care of your mental health. While some people may be full of holiday cheer, others may struggle with their mental health around the holidays. Depression, anxiety, and stress levels can soar thanks to extra demands, unrealistic expectations, or even sentimental memories. This year don’t worry if you are unable to complete every single task on your to-do list. It is important to take time for yourself to rest and relax and create a self-care buffer zone.