The holidays are time we come together with the people in our lives and rejoice. Food and drink is a natural part of festivities and spending time together, but, we don’t have to be the victim of holiday fare. There is a way to enjoy it, without gaining weight, negatively affecting our health, or feeling sluggish and bloated afterwards.
Here are my top 7 tips for a healthy holiday:
1) Eat Beforehand
Eat something healthy before go to the event or gathering. If you’re on the run and don’t have time to prepare something, grab some nuts, goji or golden Berries, kale chips, or veggies to eat on the way. Another way to already feel satiated before heading to a part full of food is to drink plenty of fluids like water, tea, or green juices beforehand. Sometimes when we feel hungry, we are really just dehydrated. Drinking plenty of water helps to make sure that we only eat the amount of food that we really need.
2) Make a dish or two
Make your favorite healthy party recipes and add a twist to traditional holiday fare. Or, if you prefer the classic dishes, you can make a healthy version of any holiday recipe. Make a low-carbohydrate dish with all-natural, whole-food ingredients. Avoid refined or processed ingredients, including sugar, salt, and flours. Instead of sugar, choose honey or dates. Or for a low-glycemic sweetener, use coconut palm sugar, xylitol, or stevia. Instead of processed table salt, use sea salt, which is mineral-rich and good for health, like Himalayan Salt or Celtic Sea Salt. Instead of white or processed flours, use whole food, low-glycemic alternatives like Almond, Coconut, or Hazelnut flours.
If you’d like to bring a sweet treat, there are also endless healthy recipes online for scrumptious desserts. When making desserts, again always avoid sugar and refined flours. The best way to find the healthiest dessert recipes is to search online for raw dessert recipes. Both will use healthy sweeteners and contain no refined or processed ingredients, and will have the best recipes for avoiding weight gain and tasting delicious at the same time.
3) Be "present" at the buffet table
Survey the buffet table before filling your plate. Try to fill your plate with salads and vegetables, nuts, fruit. Avoid sugary foods, white flour foods, and starches like white mashed potatoes (sweet potato or yams are a much better option). Enjoy any favorite “treats” in small portions, after you’ve had plenty of water and healthier options first. Then, savor your the “indulgent” dishes to satisfaction, without overeating.
4) Watch what you drink too
If you’re drinking alcohol, stick to wine, but set a limit. Sip on water throughout the night - sparkling water makes you feel more full and has more of a celebratory feel.
5) Eat lightly or fast after a holiday meal
You can’t gain weight from one meal. Gaining one pound requires eating 3,500 calories above what you normally take in. So, only multiple holiday fare indulgences will affect your weight. One way to lose weight or maintain weight during the holiday season is to eat normally one day, then fast the next day and keep alternating this pattern. This practice boosts metabolism. It you’re not a fan of fasting, an easier option is to just eat very lightly (veggie juices, salads, and vegetables) the day before and after a holiday gathering.
6) Increase exercise
A consistent increase in exercise can help to prevent weight gain from extra holiday eating. The intensity of the exercise will have to balance the amount of additional food to be affective. Do remember that while exercise may help prevent weight gain and reduce stress that can cause overeating, it cannot prevent the health effects of unhealthy food.
7) Notice Why you are eating
Very sadly in our world, food is often used as a substitute for love. Especially holiday food can remind us of good times with our families, like the safety and comfort we felt surrounded by family and food as we celebrated the holidays. The smells and sights of holiday food can also remind us of conflict with our families, or be a way to fill the love that we feel is missing inside us. Food becomes a way to comfort, distract, and feed the parts of us that feel alone, or the parts of us that are looking for love. This is one of the most compelling reasons why we overeat over the holiday season.
By taking the space to observe what you are eating, having fun making delicious healthy recipes to share, moving your body more, and a feeling your feelings so that you don’t overeat to compensate or cope, you can assure that you are truly caring for yourself this holiday season.