With the holidays fast approaching, our social calendars begin to become filled with parties, family dinners, work gatherings, and so on. This presents us with the opportunity to indulge in the tasty holiday treats and comforting meals that we love. Some people enjoy this time to indulge, others panic at the thought of their health or weight loss goals going out the window, and worry about gaining weight over the holidays.
By following a few helpful tips, you’re able to achieve a balance - give yourself a break, enjoy your time, indulge a little, and be mindful.
Just because it’s noon doesn’t mean you have to eat. If you’re not hungry, simply wait until you are. However, try not to wait until you are starving as this may lead to overeating. Food is often very available during the holidays, but tuning into your hunger and satiety cues can prevent mindless eating. Eat when you’re hungry, but stop when you’re feeling satisfied. The holidays are a time to be grateful for the food you have with family and friends. Eat your food slowly to savour and enjoy every bite! More more on mindful eating click here.
The holiday season is a great time to relax, catch up on sleep, and focus on family and time away from work. However, use this opportunity to enjoy the many activities winter has to offer! Stay active, get outside, and do something you enjoy. Try skiing, skating, sledding, build a snowman with your family, or go for an evening winter walk. Many social events revolve around food. Meet friends for an activity like rock climbing, ax throwing, or an escape room, rather than dinner. Try something new and then go for a latte or tea afterward!
Don’t forget about fruit and vegetables
Build your meals around more vegetables, follow the balanced plate as a guide: ½ plate non-starchy vegetables, ¼ plate whole grains/starchy vegetables, and ¼ plate protein. Increasing your vegetables will help to increase fiber to keep you full along with provide phytonutrients and antioxidants that have health-promoting properties. To prevent overeating at holiday gatherings, snack beforehand. For example, some vegetables and hummus, fruit + ¼ C nuts, or yogurt and berries. Looking for a boost? Try our free 4 week micronutrient challenge.
Reject feelings of stress or guilt
There is enough pressure and stress around the holidays, but one thing that shouldn’t involve stress is food. Indulging is expected, but you’re also not obliged to eat the food that’s put in front of you, even if the host encourages you. It’s okay to say no! Try not to eat just for the sake of eating. Respect what your body is telling you, and say no politely.
Skip the judgement – this applies to both yourself and others
Skipping judgement is important year-round, but around the holidays we have a particularly propensity to pass judgement about food. It can be easy to go down the tunnel of negative self talk or to strike up a conversation around categorizing foods as “bad” or that you are being “terrible” or “cheating” by eating something. Instead challenge yourself to shift the discussion towards how delicious, satisfying and enjoyable that food is. By moving away from vilifying foods you can start to feel content with your food decisions and take control over the power that food may hold if you let it.
Accept and move on
It is normal to overindulge from time to time especially over the holidays. You do not need to berate or punish yourself for this by cutting back on your next meal or spending the next few days restricting your diet. Since overeating is just human notice when this happens and then move on. Approach your next physical hunger cue as an opportunity to fuel yourself with a balanced meal that is nourishing.
Be present and grateful
The holiday season is often full of presents and gifts for others. Take time out to truly be PRESENT as a gift for yourself. One way to do this is to build in a bit of mindfulness and gratitude into each day. What would that look like? Take a moment to appreciate the friends and family you have around you, the beauty of a crisp snowy white day, your health, the health of those around you, and more. To read more about the art of practicing gratitude click here. While eating, set an intention is to fully taste the flavours - relishing in the textures, savouring the smells and marveling in the beautiful presentation of the food that you are enjoying.
Enjoy your holiday favorites just as they are
There is a time and place for food adjustments like cutting back on the amount of sugar in a recipe, or baking with whole wheat flour. It's also important to let go and enjoy without stress. You don’t always need to ‘healthify’ every food, especially when it is a favorite holiday dish that you enjoy at special occasions. It is absolutely fine and nourishing to fully enjoy your favorites just as they are from time to time.
Make an effort to limit alcohol
The holiday season is packed with opportunities to drink more alcohol - as it's often a staple at social events. Be mindful about your alcohol intake and make an effort to stay below the recommended amounts. For more information, click here. If you have been out for a couple nights in a row, opt for a soda water, mulled apple cider or a lightly sweetened hot chocolate instead. Try infusing your water with fresh cranberries and orange slices, or apples and cinnamon, which is both festive and hydrating!