Let’s be honest. We all love holiday food! There is just something about traditional food passed down through generations that hits a different way. No matter what you call it… soul food, comfort food, Grandma’s cooking… it’s all the same! Often, we go with one extreme or the other. Either we tell ourselves we can’t have it or we say to hell with it, and over-indulge. Sound familiar? Here are my Top 10 tips that can help you balance your healthy eating goals while enjoying the foods that you love during the holidays.
- Don’t go into a holiday meal starving. This is more likely to increase the pace of eating and cause you to overeat before you even realize that you are full. Eat a normal breakfast the morning of your holiday gathering and snacks as needed. Our Clean Eatz meals and Clean Eatz Barz are great choices to maintain some normalcy throughout the holiday season.
- Give yourself some grace and understand the fact that all foods can fit in moderation. The American Academy of Family Physicians agrees, there are no “bad” food. There are just larger than necessary food portions. Understand the difference. Allow yourself small portions of all the foods you love in moderation. One day of extra intake will not make all hell break loose! Just don’t let it become a new daily habit.
- Choose to use smaller plates when available. This will help you to pace yourself even though the knee-jerk reaction might be to overload a large plate.
- Stay hydrated with water! I am not telling you to skip the fun holiday drinks. That would make me a hypocrite! But remember to include water throughout the day. This will increase satiety, or the feeling of fullness alongside normal food portions.
- Establish accountability to natural stopping points. You can do this by popping a piece of gum or a mint into your mouth or brushing your teeth. This reminds you to take a break and wait for round two. It can be difficult to recognize fullness cues, even for children, so learning to establish a stopping point is essential.
- When the meal ends, volunteer to help put food away and clean the kitchen. Not only will this maintain the quality and safety of the foods served, it will also reduce the chance for grazing when you are already full. Out of sight, out of mind.
- If you are a guest attending a family or friend gathering, volunteer to bring a side dish. Choose something that is a healthy addition to the meal. For example, a fresh fruit salad with yogurt dip.
- Remember to keep your food intake balanced among food groups. As you fill your plate with food, think about including fruits, veggies, protein, dairy and grains.
- Ask if you can take home a second portion. If your Grandma or Mom is anything like mine, they follow you around and keep loading up your plate with additional food! Instead of eating more when you are already full, or refusing delicious holiday food, ask if you can take some extras to go!
- Don’t forget to include physical activity in your days. Though traditional exercise regimens may be disrupted with traveling, gym closings or busy schedules, it is easy to include non-traditional exercise! Go for a family walk, pick up a basketball or play games with the kiddos. In addition to exercise, there are so many other ways to focus on stress management without using food!
Crystal Zabka-Belsky, MS, RDN, CSSD, LMNT, LDN
Resident Dietitian, Clean Eatz Kitchen