7 tips for healthy holiday eating

Let's look at a few healthy eating strategies that will help you indulge mindfully and moderately during this holiday season

Food on dining table | healthy eating concept

The holiday season is a wonderful time of the year. It gives people opportunities to hold parties, celebrate, and relax with friends and relatives. And while you might enjoy eating and drinking anything that might come your way during the holiday season, it can harm your health. Some of the outcomes of unhealthy holiday eating include gaining weight, developing heartburn, and constipation. That’s why you have to ensure you’re eating healthy meals during the holidays.

The problem is that just the thought of maintaining a healthy holiday season diet can seem daunting for many people. In fact, 48% of Americans who made losing weight a new year resolution struggle to stick to their resolution when the holidays start rolling. Indeed, it can be tricky to monitor how you eat during the holiday season. After all, holiday eating is all about filling the plate to the brim, right?

The big question remains: is it even possible to eat healthy during the holiday season? The answer is YES, and we share a few simple yet effective holiday eating tips to help you do just that.

7 tips for healthy holiday eating

Take supplements over the holiday season

Knowing the possibility that your diet will be less than stellar during the holidays, there’s no better time to introduce supplements into your life than the holiday season. Many experts consider it a holistic approach to keeping the body healthy when a lot of crazy food choices will be in front of you.

If you’re new to supplements, they’re actually a dietary aid that’s believed to provide the your body with nutrients that you may otherwise not consume sufficiently. The problem with neglecting healthy eating during the holidays is that it can leave most people more vulnerable to getting sick. While supplements aren’t a complete solution, they might help you stay on track so that you can stay somewhat functional once the holidays are over.

If you’re considering taking supplements to help you fill in the gaps in your holiday season diet, you’ll be glad to know that they’re now readily available on most health and wellness company websites, such as http://bionuhealth.com/

Try the portion control method

As already mentioned, you can’t rely entirely on the supplements you’re taking. It means that you have to try other ways to achieve healthy eating during the holiday season. And one of the best ways to eat healthily during the holidays is by setting specific food intake guidelines. Setting guidelines is basically tracking how much of a particular food you’re eating and ensuring that you’re really sticking to your diet.

Many experts refer to this strategy as the portion control method. For example, you can limit yourself to ½ cup of stuffing instead of going for a whole cup. Or shoot for a maximum of two tablespoons of each dish if you feel like trying four different food items. What’s great about the portion control method is that you won’t have to deny yourself those must-try foods during the holidays. Yes, you’ll still be able to enjoy your favorite comfort dishes without going overboard.

However, when it comes to the holiday season meals and treats, many people throw any food intake guidelines out of the window. They seem to find the temptation of having more food than they’re able to eat on their plate hard to resist. As a result, they keep eating even when they’re already full. Here are ways to ensure that you can stick to your own control portion strategy for healthy holiday eating:

  • Opt for a smaller plate size: Take a look at the size of the plate you’re using if ever you’re struggling to stick to the portion control strategy. By doing so, you’ll notice how much bigger eating plates are these days. The trick is to use a smaller-than-usual plate. That way, you’ll have less even if the plate is filled to the brim.
  • Limit the food items on your plate: The ‘little bit of everything’ principle may initially sound positive. However, later, you’ll realize that taking a small scoop of this and that can quickly add up. Before you know it, you already had too much overall. Don’t try one of everything, especially if the options in front of you are loaded with calories. Ideally, you should limit yourself to up to a maximum of just four items, so check what’s up for grabs and only go for what you really love.
  • Serve yourself: Another way to ensure that you’re effectively doing portion control is not to let other people decide how much food should be on your plate. Instead, take control of your plate by serving yourself during holiday gatherings to avoid getting so much more than what you can take and not overeat.

Include lots of veggies and fruits in your meals

The holiday season doesn’t only have to mean fatty foods. Yes, the tables are likely laden with juicy meats, and vegetables or fruits may be difficult to find. However, if you really don’t want to worry about how much you’re eating, then load your plate with many colorful veggies and fruits. Doing so lowers the risk of significant holiday weight gain considerably. Look for broccoli, mushrooms, spinach, green beans, carrots, and other non-starchy vegetables. Ideally, you should fill your plate up with veggies and fruits before moving to the less-healthy treats – if you’re still hungry, of course.

It’s also essential to note that digestion problems are another major challenge experienced by most people during holidays. The holiday season is always associated with heavy foods, excessive portions, decreased fibre, and excess alcohol. All these can lead to misery in your digestive system. Common symptoms of a poor digestive system include constipation, an upset stomach, fatigue, and even insomnia.

Consuming more veggies and fruits during the holidays can minimize not only the holiday weight gain issue but also digestive problems. That’s because they have lower calorie amounts and are rich in fiber, which can boost your digestive system. Besides, fruits contain vitamin C and potassium, which are essential components in the digestive system.

Prepare healthier food items for yourself

If you know that your host’s dinner menu won’t feature veggies and fruits or your family at home doesn’t like greens, why not prepare food for yourself? You can even bring the dish you made to your host’s home. They won’t mind it for sure. They’ll even appreciate you bringing something you can share with them. When staying at home, it’s also a perfect opportunity to educate your family members about healthier food options for the holidays. It’s the best way to stay in control over what you’re eating.

Of course, preparing your own food will also give you the chance to swap out unhealthy ingredients to bring healthy alternatives. Here are some of the ways you can make unhealthy holiday dishes healthier:

  • Replace butter and animal-based fats with healthy cooking oils: When cooking or baking for the holidays, consider using olive oil or vegetable oil instead of butter and other unhealthy saturated fats that only increase the risk for heart conditions. If you like a little extra sweetness, especially when baking, you can also try unsweetened applesauce. It’s a great alternative to oil that you can use to make bread, muffins, and cakes.
  • Replace white flour with whole grains: Whole grains can make one feel full faster than white flour, thanks to the greater amount of fiber it contains. In addition, whole grains also have essential nutrients that you can’t find in white flour, such as riboflavin and iron. So, instead of using bread made from white flour for your stuffing or dressing, use whole grains; it’s healthier!
  • Replace heavy cream with coconut milk: Heavy cream is famous for giving the creamy taste and texture to favorite holiday dishes like crab bisques. However, if you want a less-caloric alternative, use coconut milk instead. Coconut milk is also versatile; aside from creamy mains, you can also use it to make sauces and desserts.

Limit Alcohol Intake

Alcohol forms an integral part of people’s parties and celebrations. However, too much of it can have a negative effect on your health. Here are some examples of how alcohol affects your health:

  • It causes you to overeat: Too much alcohol can increase your appetite, especially when you take it on an empty stomach. And with the bunch of food options available during the holidays, you’ll end up overeating for sure. In fact, alcohol itself often comes with a lot of calories. Two glasses of red wine could add an extra 250 calories to your total for the day. So, if you’re tracking the caloric content in the food items that you’re eating over the holidays, make sure to include calories from alcohol.
  • It increases your chance of getting sick: What many people don’t realize is that drinking too much alcohol impairs the immune system. Thus, it makes it harder for their body to defend itself against disease-causing germs. Alcohol can increase your chance of getting sick by damaging your cells and even destroying the microorganisms in your gut that help maintain the immune system. Add to it the fact that, unlike with carbohydrates and fats, the human body doesn’t have a way of storing alcohol. As a result, the body focuses on breaking down alcohol every time it detects it, making the body unable to perform some critical functions, including fighting off diseases.
  • It has damaging effects on the brain: Not only does alcohol affect your physical health and appearance, but it also impacts your cognitive wellbeing. That’s because taking too much alcohol can interfere with the neurotransmitter in the brain. When your neurotransmitters are interrupted, they can’t function well, thus causing your mental health to deteriorate. It then leads to the symptoms of intoxication, including impulse behavior and slurred speech.

Indeed, the holiday celebrations won’t be complete without booze. However, now that you know that it could cost your health, consider drinking in moderation. Or, better yet, cut alcohol completely.

Stay Hydrated

While it’s important to avoid alcohol as much as possible during the holidays, the same can’t be said for water. It’s instead essential to stay hydrated throughout the holiday season’s festivities. That’s because hydration can do wonders for your health by preventing you from overeating. You probably haven’t realized it yet, but cravings are sometimes the body’s way of asking for water, not food. If you drink water regularly, you can curb those hunger pangs.

When enjoying food, you should drink before and during eating. That way, you’ll feel full faster. It helps you prevent yourself from filling your plate for the second (or maybe third) time.

Apart from the lack of fibre in the food you’re consuming, dehydration can also cause holiday constipation. It’s the reduction of water in the body. One of the best ways to deal with it is, obviously, to drink a lot of water.

Eat and drink slower

Do you know that the stomach takes around 20 minutes to realize that it’s already full after you eat? That’s why to help curb overeating during the holidays, give your body time to signal your brain that you’re full by eating and drinking slower. It also gives you enough time to recognize your brain’s signals.

To eat and drink slower than you usually would, try to really savor each bite. It will help you become more mindful of your eating, allowing you to really enjoy whatever delicious holiday food you’re consuming. Taking things slowly also lets you enjoy conversing with family and friends without feeling stuffed and bloated later.

Takeaway

The holiday season comes with a lot of excitement. It’s one of the most important periods when people get opportunities to come together to celebrate. However, it can also pose health risks, especially when you find yourself eating unhealthily. The key to staying healthy during the holiday season is to indulge mindfully and moderately. Do it by implementing the above-discussed strategies and tips. Most importantly, though, remember to have fun and don’t let the magical moments of the holiday season slip just because you’re afraid of getting sick.

 

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