‘Tis the season for copious amounts of pumpkin pie, eggnog, cookies, and unlimited opportunities to stuff our faces full of sugary treats. Whether it be a family gathering, office party, or celebration with friends, it can seem overwhelming to keep our health and fitness goals a priority throughout the holiday season.
When I go home for the holidays I often catch myself reverting back to my 16 year old self which can include sleeping for twelve hours straight, picking meaningless fights with my sisters, and eating anything and everything my mom puts on the table in front of me. Over the years, I have grown to realize the importance of maintaining healthy eating habits throughout this busy season, not only to maintain weight, but to help manage mood, energy, and stress levels. Here are my top nutrition tips on how to stay healthy this holiday season.
❖ Reject the ALL OR NOTHING MENTALITY: “I’ll get back to my old eating habits on Monday” or “I already ate a cinnamon roll this morning, so I might as well splurge the rest of the day.” These types of “all or nothing” statements are our way of letting ourselves off the hook. It temporarily allows us to forgo the guilt and move on with our day. However, it is important to remember that healthy eating is not about perfection, it is about balance and choices over time (not just in that one moment where you decided to enjoy some eggnog!). If you do choose to indulge, savor it and enjoy it without the guilt, and know you can choose to eat healthy again whenever you want.
❖ Avoid saving up for the big meal: “Man, I’m starving...Where are the appetizers? I haven’t eaten anything all day, because I knew there was going to be so much food here.” Saving up for the big meal can cause us to make unhealthy decisions we wouldn’t normally make. Physiologically, when we do not eat for an extended period of time (i.e. skipping breakfast or meals), our blood sugars naturally get low. In response, we crave the foods that will raise our blood sugars the fastest- simple sugars and carbohydrates. By eating a balanced meal or snack prior to our holiday feast, we are less likely to overeat later in the day.
❖ Bring a healthy dish to share with family and friends: To ensure there is at least one healthy option at the party, takes matters into your own hands and bring a healthy dish to share. Stick to “whole food” appetizers and sides dishes such as deviled eggs, roasted brussels sprouts and bacon, or a veggie or fruit platter. I promise you won’t be the only one who appreciates it.
❖ Get a workout in: Holiday travel or gym closures may seem like a barrier to getting a workout in during this busy season. However, getting a quick jog in, or simple workout with pushups, squats and sprints is not only a great way to deal with the stress of family, but it’s a great boost to the metabolism on a day when nutrition may be less than optimal.
Cheers to a healthy and happy holiday season!
Colette Rose, Registered Dietitian