10 Tips for a Healthier and More Nutritious Holiday Season

This year, in addition to holiday stress there is pandemic stress, which makes it even more important to head into the holidays with a plan for a healthy body and mind.

Family celebrating Thanksgiving. On the table is a traditional roasted turkey with side dishes

During the holiday season food seems to be everywhere! That’s why it often feels like a challenge to maintain a healthy eating and exercise routine during these hectic months. This year, in addition to holiday stress there is pandemic stress, which makes it even more important to head into the holidays with a plan for a healthy body and mind.

  1. Eat Regular, Balanced Meals.  Anticipation of losing weight or dieting after New Year’s Day can lead to binge-eating over the holidays.  If you want to keep cravings at bay and prevent overindulging, try eating three meals a day that include protein and fiber.
  2. Avoid Feeling Guilty! Holidays provide us with seasonal recipes and family traditions that make it easy to overindulge and feel guilty. Plan on indulging a few times during this season on items that you can’t get year-round. After all, it’s important to enjoy yourself! If you plan on eating a few treats, it will make it easier to stay on track the rest of the holiday season.
  3. Prioritize Favorites. The more variety we have, the more we tend to eat! However, the holidays do not have to be an all-you-can-eat buffet! Pick 3-4 of your absolute favorites and forgo the rest!  
  4. Use a Plate. Try to only eat off of a plate (and make it a small one!) to minimize mindless eating while cooking, social distancing, or watching TV. This is a smart way to keep track of portions instead of mindlessly popping food into your mouth.
  5. Use the “MyPlate Method.” Avoid loading up your plate with all carbohydrates (corn, potatoes, squash, roll/biscuit, stuffing) and turkey. Build a balanced plate and try making half of the plate vegetables cooked without added cream, butter, salt or sugar.
  6. Be Active: Inactivity accompanied by overeating leads directly to weight gain. Do some type of physical activity during the holidays.  Try to track your physical activity and aim for ≥10,000 steps per day.
  7. Practice Mindful Eating: Limit distractions during mealtime. Chew slowly and thoroughly. Recognize your body’s fullness signals. Take a few deep breaths before you start eating to relax and keep attention on your plate.
  8. Proper Self-Care: You know YOU best. Take the time for yourself to de-stress and find moments to practice gratitude and meditation.  Make sure to get enough sleep! Studies have shown that not getting enough sleep leads to increased hunger and decreased physical activity.
  9. Maintain Perspective. One day of overeating won’t make or break your plan and goals! It takes days of overeating to gain weight. Don’t throw in the towel and fall into bad habits – go back to your usual eating plan. Don’t let a slip become an avalanche. If you overindulge, accept it and move on to making better choices.
  10. Don’t Prolong Unhealthy Habits. Avoid the “I’ll start tomorrow” mindset.  Set limits and stick to your goals. Enlist reinforcements by using the buddy system.  Find someone that has similar goals and work toward them together!

This article was written by Dietician Maria Monterotti.

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