With the weather getting colder and the days getting shorter, we have an easy reminder that the holidays are getting near. This is an exciting time but for many of us, but it can also be a very stressful time trying to stay focused on good health. Many of us have fears of literally eating ourselves to a larger size through the holidays and feeling guilty come Jan 1. It doesn't have to be this way.
Your calendar may be filling up quickly with holiday parties and family gatherings where food and drinks are plentiful. Not to mention trying to keep up with your normal routine while squeezing in the shopping, wrapping, cooking, and the extra time with our loved ones. So, how do we handle all this and still manage to eat healthy?
Keep it simple and keep your overall health as your main focus.
1. Be mindful. When you are standing around at a party and have your hand in the bowl of snack mix it's easy to get lost in how much you have consumed. Or when you are nonchalantly sipping on eggnog or wine at your work party, it's a whole lot easier to follow that with some cheesecake or brownies because you aren't actually paying attention to what is going in your mouth. Before eating, take a moment to think about a few things: am I hungry? Is this something that will make me feel ill in a few short hours? Am I even tasting this food or am I mindlessly tossing it in my mouth without enjoying the chewing and flavors it has to offer?
2. Plan ahead. If you know you will be going to your in-laws for Christmas dinner and they always have fried turkey with mashed potatoes and gravy and no healthy greens, make sure to eat a large portion of vegetables and other colorful nutrients earlier in the day and don't arrive starving!!
3. Something is better than nothing. Even if you can't get your entire hour workout in at the gym between events, wake up 30 minutes early and get in a quick HIIT workout in, or go for a short walk to get your blood flowing and to help keep your body in shape and your personal commitment to exercise in check.
4. Get creative with your menu. Instead of mashed potatoes, try mashed cauliflower. Instead of lasagna with heavy cheeses and meats, try a vegan version. Instead of 3 starchy sides, swap 1-2 of them for roasted asparagus, or roasted brussel sprouts, in addition to adding a colorful green salad.
5. When going to a party, offer to bring something. If you bring something that is healthy. you will at least have one thing you will be able to eat without feeling guilty.
6. Portion control. It's so easy at Thanksgiving and Christmas to overfill our plates and feel miserable for hours after overeating. Remember to grab smaller portions or simply go against the rules of your childhood and don't clean your plate!!
7. Remember what holidays are truly about. Although it is fun to get wrapped up in the gift giving, elaborate deserts, and festive parties....try to focus on what really matters in life- your family, friends, faith....being grateful for all the wonderful things in your life. Try to find time for balance in your life, and time to refocus on your personal goals.
There are many great websites with healthy holiday clean eating recipes. A few of our favorites here at KCIH: www.eatingwell.com