Redefine Holiday Eating

by Jennifer McGurk on December 1, 2016

As much as we love the holiday season, it can be equal parts wonderful and stressful. There is usually a lot going on, including planning trips, shopping for gifts, seeing friends and family, and of course, eating holiday food!

I don’t know about you, but I hate those “healthy holiday articles” that suggest walking away from the dessert table. The goal of the holiday season is not to “eat healthy”. My personal goal is to eat food in a mindful way that makes me feel good before, during, and after a meal. Eating to the point that makes me feel satisfied and happy, not restricted or too stuffed.

10 Ways to Stay Mindful During the Holidays

1. Use your support system. It’s okay to ask your friends, family, and of course me, your registered dietitian, for support during stressful times. Sometimes it takes an army of supportive people around you to get you through the holidays. Whether it’s eating a meal together, going for a walk, or just being a phone call away, your support system should be there for you.

2. Create a meal plan. A meal plan is a “guide” to help you make decisions when it’s too stressful to do so on your own. I love to help clients make a special “holiday” meal plan (with favorite foods) for a party or special celebration.

3. Be mindful and practice eating intuitively. Are you eating holiday cookies just because they are there or are you eating them because they taste so good? What’s your favorite kind of cookie? Do you even like cookies or do you prefer a cup of hot chocolate? Dig deep to ask yourself if a food is something you actually want or if you’re just eating out of boredom or convenience.

4. Listen to hunger and satiety cues (if they are working in your own body). Try to eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full. What does it feel like to be hungry? What does it feel like to be full? Take note of this now and put it into practice.

5. Eat a high-fiber, nutritious breakfast each day. Whole grain cereal, skim milk and fruit or eggs and toast are great options. This nutrient-filled breakfast will help get your metabolism going, and will also help decrease emotional eating in the afternoon or evening.

6. Keep healthy snacks on hand when out shopping, or out running errands. Keep a healthy granola bar or trail mix pack in your purse (or even in your car), that way you can stick to a healthier choice when hunger hits.

7. Drink alcohol wisely. A simple beer or wine is usually a healthier choice compared to the sugary mixed drinks that will spike your blood sugar. Choose water or club soda with lime at parties to alternate in between drinks (sometimes it’s more about holding a pretty drink rather than the drink itself).

8.  Bring a dish to parties as a way to thank your host. Bring something you know is a comfort food but also safe for you to eat if you are unsure about the rest of the foods.

9.  Exercise as stress relief. Not only will this help you physically, but mentally too. Exercise can be just as powerful as a medication for stress! Try to schedule in short (realistic workouts), maybe 30 minutes a few times a week.

10. Try to avoid the mindset of “all or nothing”. This time of year is all about doing what you “can”. But if you have a “me first” mentality and take care of you, I can almost guarantee you that you will have a happier, healthier holiday season. 

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