Along with the festivities of the holiday season comes an almost inevitable change in our eating habits. Our once-a-year favourite foods make a much-anticipated return to our tables. Holiday travel may mean grabbing more food on-the-go. Time is spent catching-up over a cocktail or beer with friends and family. If you find it challenging to avoid overindulging during the holidays, you’re not alone. Roughly 75% of annual weight gain takes place during the holiday season.
There are several reasons why eating habits can change over the holiday season and you know what? It’s okay. It’s even normal. Guilt and shame have no place during the most festive of times. Still, if you’ve worked hard this year on your weight management, you don’t want to see your progress slip away between Halloween and New Years. Acknowledging the challenges and putting in place a plan to mitigate them is the number one way to keep your healthy eating habits on track. With this in mind, here are five tips for healthy eating over the holidays.
1. Drink Plenty of Water Chances are that you’ve heard about the importance of drinking enough water; however, hydration isn’t always top of mind during the colder months. In fact, people feel about 40% less thirsty in winter. However, our bodies’ need for fluids hasn’t changed, despite the dip in temperature. Furthermore, our minds can misinterpret thirst for hunger. Give your body the water it needs, rather than filling up on empty calories.
2. Sip Smarter Alcoholic drinks typically play a significant role in celebrating the holidays, with champagne toasts, sparkling wine, and eggnog. Although most people know that liquid calories can add up, you might not realize just how calorically dense your favorite holiday beverages are. For instance, a cup of eggnog, a candy cane martini or a glass of sangria can include 250 calories or more for just a single serving. Keep moderation top-of-mind and savour your drinks by sipping slowly to fully enjoy them. Being mindful can help you reduce your overall calorie intake without feeling like you’re missing out.
3. Eat Before a Holiday Gathering This tip might sound counterintuitive as it’s adding additional calories, but if you fill up on healthy food before a holiday party, you are less likely to indulge in unhealthy temptations later on. Satisfying pre-party snacks include apples with peanut butter or a slice of turkey and cheese, and will give you the energy you need to enjoy the festivities.
4. Eat Slowly Try slowing down the pace at which you eat, setting your utensils down and pausing in between bites, and taking the time to notice how the food engages your senses. Eating slowly helps us to recognize our hunger and fullness cues, and to avoid eating past the point of satiation. You want to be able to remember your holiday meals for the wonderful tastes and aromas, not from the discomfort they produced!
5. Quality Over Quantity The holidays are for celebrating, and you can do just that by eating and drinking things you genuinely enjoy. Instead of seeing just how high you can stack your plate with yummy goodness, take a look at the holiday spread and decide on a select few items that you want to try first. You can always go back for more, but chances are, you will be satisfied with the foods you chose!
While the holidays are not an excuse to abandon your healthy eating habits, it’s okay to give yourself a break from time-to-time. We all overindulge at a holiday party or miss a scheduled workout sometimes. Don’t punish yourself or write the day, just take a deep breath and reset. Happy holidays!