According to a recent Weight Watchers report, the average American gains around 7-10 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. Moreover, much of this weight is maintained from thereon despite our promises (as we help ourselves to another slice of pie) to go on a diet in January.
But, I am a true believer that ALL foods can be part of a healthy lifestyle. Yes, this includes our favorite holiday meals and treats. Here are some tips on how to be more mindful while still enjoying your favorite dishes during the holidays.
1. Don’t skip meals to make room for your holiday meal
No one wants to be the “hangry” person at the party. Just like any other day skipping meals can leave you feeling like you could eat the world which can make it hard to stop when you are full therefore, you overeat. Eat consistent meals throughout the day to help keep you satisfied, reduce cravings and binging.
2. Balance and moderation in all meals
Moderation where necessary, be mindful of what you’re eating. Start by filling half your plate with non-starchy vegetables, a quarter of your plate with protein and the other quarter with carbohydrate rich foods. No matter where you are you can always use this as a guide to eat a balanced meal even when you are not at home. If you’re unsure what will be offered don’t hesitate to bring a dish to complement your meal.
3. Listen to your hunger cues
This is a great opportunity to practice listening to your body’s cues. Ask yourself, as you serve yourself and while eating: How hungry am I? How full do I feel? Is the food as good as I expected? It is normal to overeat sometimes. This can often happen on special occasions such as the holidays. However it is okay to also turn down food politely if you really don’t feel like eating more or having something that wasn’t as satisfying as you thought. There are plenty of times that I take a bite of something and it’s just not as good as I remember and decide not to finish it. Try starting with smaller portions if you’re not quite sure you will enjoy a dish. Remember you can always go back for seconds.
4. Eat nutrient-dense foods
Another important one is eating nutrient-dense foods, specifically the proteins. So our foods that are high in protein are digested a little bit slower in the body. Thus, when we eat them, we have these feelings of being full for a long period. So at that holiday dinner, opt for getting those extra servings of turkey or ham. Fill your plate with that protein. It’s going to take up a lot of volume in your stomach and help prevent you from overheating.
5. Eat and enjoy
Don’t put hard limits on yourself. It’s the holidays. The holidays are a time to be with your family and friends. It is also a time to ENJOY your favorite foods. Give yourself permission and skip the guilt. Seriously, it’s okay. Don’t let food be an added stressor during the holidays. Set yourself up for success by using the tips above to help you be more mindful during the holidays, and better yet, throughout the whole year.