The time of year for rich, delicious foods is here! During the holidays, we fill our plates for some of the tastiest meals we will eat all year. Whether you love mashed potatoes with lots of gravy, or are just itching to take a delectable bite of the Christmas ham, what we’re eating is central to many of our activities this time of year.
When we’re spending our time with family and friends, and caught up in the holiday cheer of giving gifts, cookie decorating, and holiday movie marathons, it’s easy to forget about our normal eating habits and the health options we make throughout the year. With the sheer abundance of the season, it seems we’re never far from a huge meal or that extra dessert.
Of course we still want to celebrate, but being mindful of your eating habits can help you make healthier choices this holiday season. Often these rich foods can make us feel bloated, tired, and cause other digestive issues, especially since we’re not used to eating indulgent holiday foods year-round.
Healthy eating during the holidays requires us to be cognizant and mindful of the choices we’re making, while also keeping in mind the reason we want to make healthier choices. Are you trying to maintain your fitness? Are you on a weight loss journey? Do you just want to avoid feeling sluggish? Knowing your “why” makes it easier for you to stick to healthy eating.
Practice Mindful Eating
One of the best ways to eat healthier is to practice mindful eating and eat with intention. Overeating is really common this time of year, so it’s important to check in with yourself and see how you’re feeling. When eating mindfully, you want to focus on the sensations and how your body feels without judgment. By mindfully eating, you’re choosing to experience the meal rather than just eat. This can help you with not overeating and also learning what it feels like to be full and satisfied.
Other tenets of mindful eating include serving modest portions, taking small bites, and eating slowly. Each of these practices give us the space to really think about the food and what we’re eating, rather than just doing something out of habit.
Don’t Skip Meals
It’s easy to think that skipping breakfast or lunch is a good idea, especially when you’re planning to have a large meal later in the day. However, it’s important to keep your body on its regular schedule, which helps in regulating blood sugar. Additionally, skipping meals often causes overeating at later meals.
If, instead, you eat meals earlier in the day, you are less likely to overeat and you have the opportunity to fuel up on healthy, nutrient-rich foods that will satisfy you and keep you going throughout the day. Choose healthier options for breakfast and lunch, like lean proteins, whole grains, and fresh fruit and vegetables to set you up for success.
Practice Moderation with Alcohol
The holidays don’t just bring good food — they also bring good drinks! Drinking is very common this time of year, especially during celebrations where you might break out the eggnog or that fancy bottle of wine you’ve been saving for a special occasion. If you like a good drink, then have one! It’s important to not tell yourself you can’t have something. Instead, practice moderation.
Alcohol has well-known side effects that impact our overall health — and I don’t just mean hangovers. If you are sticking to a holiday fitness plan, alcohol-induced hydration can impact your performance. Remember to enjoy having one or two drinks, but then switch to water. Proper hydration will not only help your fitness, but also is necessary for your digestive system to function well.
Be Reasonable With Your Limits
During this time of year, people often say that they’re going to bar themselves from eating dessert or some other type of food. While this may have good intentions, not allowing yourself to have certain foods can lead to a bad relationship with certain foods — by making them out to be “bad” — but can also lead to intense cravings and binge eating.
If you choose to set a limit in order to eat healthier during the holidays, allow yourself to indulge. Perhaps take a smaller cookie instead of the biggest one on the platter, or choose two desserts you really want rather than loading up your plate with all the options.
Fresh vegetables and grains are excellent alternatives to some of the more high-fat food options that regularly get served during the holiday season.
Consider Healthy Substitutions
Holiday foods are very rich, and are often made with a lot of butter, oil, fat, and dairy. While these are certainly delicious, eating foods like this in large servings can be a shock to your digestive system! Whether you are cooking the meal or bringing something to a potluck, consider some healthier alternatives to traditional holiday foods.
For example, instead of creamy mashed potatoes or a sweet potato casserole, consider making baked potatoes and/or sweet potatoes. Then, you can offer a “topping bar” and let everyone choose for themselves how they’d like to dress it up. This allows people to make healthy choices, but will still be delicious!
Additionally, you might consider adding more veggies or salad to the buffet. Just by having the option available more people are likely to add them to their plate — also vegetables are a great source of fiber. Fiber helps get your digestive system moving!
Add fresh fruit to the dessert table. Having something simple like fresh fruit is a great option for something sweet if someone doesn’t want to opt for a brownie or Christmas cookie — or if they want to have it both ways and enjoy some fruit and dessert!
Reducing the amount of butter and dairy in your dishes can also help you eat healthier during the holidays. You might consider trying to do with less or looking for low-fat, low-dairy, or low-oil recipes for some of your holiday favorites. Looking at vegan dishes is especially helpful for this — and they are often filled with delectable veggies, too!
It’s important to let yourself enjoy the holidays — after all, they only come once a year!
Tracking Your Health and Wellness During the Holidays
Want to keep tabs on your measurements throughout the holidays? Knowing how all these delicious foods are affecting your physique can help you be even more mindful during this time of year. When you use the ZOZOSUIT with the ZOZOFIT app, they can help track your progress as your body changes. Learn more about ZOZOFIT today.