Healthy Eating During the Holidays

Thanksgiving dinner party with family and food

The holiday season is upon us. Despite the peace the season promises to bring, we often find ourselves overwhelmed by extra responsibilities, family strife, and financial stress. It can be hard to stick to a pattern of healthy living during the holidays; both our stress and our access to cookies is way up! However, healthy eating during the holidays can be done. Take a breath and read our list of ways to stick to healthy eating this holiday season:

8 Ways to Eat Healthy During the Holidays

1. Eat Slowly & Savor Each Bite

It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to realize your stomach is full. Eat each portion of your meal slowly and check in with yourself often to make sure you are still hungry and enjoying the food you are eating. This also gives you ample opportunity to enjoy all the flavors of your meal. If you think you will want to go back up for seconds, take a break before hitting the buffet. Wait 10-15 minutes and if you are still hungry, go up for another serving.

2. Stick to Water

Instead of reaching for sugary soda or punch, stick to water. Drinking water will keep you hydrated and cut any extra calories contained in sugary alternatives.

Alcohol can slow down your blood sugar. Drinking on an empty stomach can increase your appetite and lower your inhibitions about eating more than you need. If you do plan on drinking, try to drink equal parts of water and alcohol to keep you hydrated.

3. Eat Before You Go

If you are worried about overstuffing yourself on the buffet line, eat something before you leave the house. Foods that are high in protein will fuel you for the rest of your day and help you feel fuller. This means at the buffet you will be free to pick the foods you really want to try, rather than mindlessly filling up your plate.

If you are looking for a pre-party snack, try an apple, some peanut butter on whole wheat toast, or a turkey and cheese lettuce wrap.

4. Try a Little of A Lot

You should expect to encounter a lot of tempting buffet options this season. Instead of piling up a plate or two with as much as you can, limit yourself to a plate full of small samples of everything. This gives you the opportunity to slowly taste everything and see what you really like. If you are still hungry after your sample plate, go back up for seconds of the items you have determined are your favorites.

5. Get Creative with Your Recipes

Bringing a dish to share? Experiment with your old favorites or some new recipes to make a healthier version. Swap out the butter, shortening, and other ingredients high in fat, cholesterol, and sugar with a healthy alternative. For example, oil or applesauce can be used in place of butter or margarine. Flavor extracts can be used to cut down on sugar and butter, and low and non-fat milk can be used in place of whole milk.

This can be a great challenge for you to create delicious and healthy recipes your guests will love. Often, guests will not even notice substitutions.

6. Do Not Forget the Veggies

Dieticians recommend your plate should be half vegetables at mealtimes. However, at holiday parties, veggies can often be overlooked. If you are bringing a dish to share, consider a veggie-heavy offering. If you are filling up at the buffet line or ordering off a menu, try to incorporate a good amount of vegetables into your meal. Experts recommend eating your vegetables first; if you fill up on carbs, proteins, and fats first, you are less likely to actually finish your vegetables.

7. Take Time to Rest

Although it is not directly related to a mealtime, getting adequate rest and enough sleep is a vital part of staying healthy during the holidays. With so many extra stress factors, it is especially crucial to avoid burnout. Entertaining family all month? Schedule some unmovable me-time doing something you find relaxing like yoga or just an afternoon of watching your favorite movie.

Getting less sleep than you need means you are more likely to overeat the next day or opt for less healthy options high in fat and sugar. Aim to get seven to eight hours of sleep each night so you are fully rested and fueled for each day.

8. Get Moving

During the colder months it can be difficult to maintain physical activity. It is still important for your physical and mental health to keep active. If you do not have a gym membership, get creative with your workouts. Join a local class, find a series of workout YouTube videos, or go ice skating or sledding – staying active can look different for everybody!

Is getting back to the doctor on your holiday to-do list? Schedule an appointment at Capital Women’s Care!

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