Five Ways to Keep Healthy Eating on Track through the Holidays
ByKatarina Meister, ND •December 5, 2021
1. Drink plenty of water. During social gatherings try alternating between an alcoholic beverage and a glass of water to stay hydrated and minimize hangover symptoms. If you struggle to meet your daily water needs, you may find it easier to drink a sparkling mineral water with a lemon or lime between alcoholic drinks vs a non-carbonated water beverage. Sparkling mineral water is naturally carbonated and packed with essential minerals and contains zero sugar or calories (sparkling mineral water is similar to club soda, or seltzer). Avoid tonic water as this is higher in sugar and calories. Always have a glass of water nearby (ie. in your car!) so you can sip throughout the day. Aim to drink ½ your body weight in ounces of water each day. For example, if you weigh 150 lbs, you need 75 ounces of water daily. Best time to drink water is in between meals.
2. Plan for small indulgences. Before a gathering, mindfully decide what you want to indulge in. Having a good balance like this keeps long term health goals manageable. Think about choosing nourishment over deprivation whenever possible. To minimize over-eating, decrease cravings, and to keep blood sugar stable throughout the night, eat a protein-rich snack before a party. Examples include hard-boiled egg with avocado, handful of your favorite nuts or seeds, chia seed pudding, or a protein shake.
3. Make a colorful plate. A good goal is having your plate full of color! Think orange, red, purple, green, and yellow foods. This ensures that you are fueling your body with essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. At social gatherings first fill your plate with salad, roasted veggies, and protein before adding in the casseroles/bread/potatoes/desserts… these other dishes are higher in calories, carbs, and sugar. Loading up on these items may contribute to a sluggish metabolism, lower energy, and weight loss resistance.
4. Eat slowly! Try chewing your food 30 times until the food is liquefied. This will promote optimal digestion and train your body to slow down. Putting your fork down in between bites can also encourage slow eating. It takes about 30 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain it’s full. This helps encourage intuitive eating- eating when you are hungry and stopping when you are full. Take a moment before you start eating to take in a food’s aroma and then begin to chew slowly and savor every bite. Chewing helps mechanically break down food and activates the rest of your gastrointestinal system with enough stomach acid and digestive enzymes to fully break down your food.
5. Make simple healthy swaps. Another great way to indulge in a favorite holiday recipe is to curate it to be healthy with simple nutrient-dense swaps. This way you can skip out on the extra sugar, carbs, processed vegetable oils, and saturated fats in these typical holiday dishes. Try a few of these examples for inspiration:
– Try cauliflower mashed “potatoes” rather than regular potatoes.
– Try oven-roasting vegetables in avocado oil instead of vegetable oil.
– Try refined-sugar alternatives like maple syrup, honey, coconut sugar, dates and stevia. If a recipe calls for granulated sugar, coconut sugar is a tasty but lower-glycemic alternative.
– Try baked apples with a nut and seed granola instead of apple pie
– Try hummus or guacamole instead of a cheese dip. Replace chips with jicama (my favorite dipping vegetable!), carrots, cucumbers, bell peppers, and celery.
Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health practitioners with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.