Yes, it really is that time of year again. The holidays are just around the corner, and that means the season of overindulgence is upon us. Huge meals, sweet treats, and comfort food galore. Many people joke about packing on the pounds in November and December, vowing to lose it in January. But does it really have to be that way? No! Making a few simple changes to your habits and mindset can help you glide through the season feeling and looking your best. Here are a few ways to eat healthier during the holiday season:
Drink Water First
Always start with water! A full glass of water helps your body digest food and absorb more nutrients, and it can keep your belly feeling full. Most experts recommend drinking somewhere between half an ounce to an ounce of water for each pound you weigh. Drink at least eight ounces before you sit down for a meal, and then keep on sipping throughout. Avoid soft drinks, juices, and alcohol as much as possible. Your body doesn’t need the empty calories, and these drinks wreak havoc on your digestive system. If you do choose to have a glass of wine with dinner, be sure it’s accompanied by a tall glass of water.
Be Mindful of Portions
No one likes the feeling of being so stuffed that your pants won’t button. Yet for some reason, so many of us end up right there every holiday: reaching for the loose, stretchy pants, kicking ourselves for having eaten so much. This season, promise yourself it will be different. Start with a smaller plate – we tend to fill up whatever size plate we have, so the smaller, the better. Take small servings of your favorite side dishes, and skip the ones you’re on the fence about. Pick one dessert you absolutely love and savor a reasonably sized portion of it.
No, you don’t have to eat everything that’s available. Aunt Mary’s goopy, calorie-laden green bean casserole doesn’t have to make it onto your plate. If you want to try it for nostalgia’s sake or to avoid a family feud, take a small spoonful and appreciate a bite or two. Load up on fresh vegetables and lean proteins, and try to go easy on the starches. Skip the dinner roll, opt for sweet potatoes instead of regular potatoes, and go easy on the buttery, creamy sides.
The 10-Minute Rule
Before heading back for seconds, drink a glass of water, and wait 10 minutes. Get up and stretch, sit back and enjoy the conversation, or hide out in the bathroom for a few minutes. It takes about that long for the brain to get the message that your belly is full and you should stop eating. You will likely find that you aren’t hungry anymore, or maybe that you just have room for one more serving of your all-time favorite side dish. Listen to your body, but be sure to give it enough time to tell you what it needs.
Make Smart Substitutions in the Kitchen
There are so many ways to incorporate healthier ingredients in our holiday meals, it just takes a bit of mindfulness when it comes to choosing ingredients. Try cooking with olive or coconut oil instead of butter. Opt for reduced-fat or reduced sodium broths. Cut back on the sugar in your cranberry relish, or replace with a healthier sweetener like agave or raw honey. Serve hummus or a Greek-yogurt based dip instead of the usual creamy dips. These days, you can almost always find a “healthy version” of any dish with a quick Google or Pinterest search.
Holidays don’t have to be synonymous with weight gain and overindulgence. Making a few simple changes can make a huge difference. For more tips on how to live your healthiest life, or to share your favorite healthy recipes, head over to our Facebook page.