‘Tis the season for fun, family, festivities, and food — lots of it. It’s the busiest time of the year, which means that more often than not, healthy habits get tossed to the wayside in exchange for travel, parties, and gearing up for the holiday season. If you’re seeking ways to stick to your plan without ruining your celebration, consider these 5 tips for healthy holiday eating.
1. Don’t Skip Meals
Many people skip meals in order to save room for dinner. This is a big mistake and can lead to overeating in the long run. Make sure that you have a good foundation for the day by waking up and eating a big, healthy breakfast. Whether you dine on an egg-white omelet or cinnamon and brown sugar oatmeal, choose something hearty! After all, a solid breakfast will make it easier for your body to digest dinner later.
2. Stay Active
Just because everything tends to be very food-focused during this time, doesn’t mean you should give up on staying active. Consider taking a walk after dinner with your family! Run a 5K in the days leading up to your celebration! Take some time to play a game outside like badminton or corn hole! It’s the busiest time of the year, so it’s natural that you might not be able to find extra time for exercise… If that’s the case, use your shopping trips as sneaky ways to increase your step count.
3. Practice Portion Control
Make sure to exercise portion control by picking a smaller plate! Research shows that when we pick a smaller plate, we trick our eyes and minds into thinking that we’re eating more than we actually are. As another portion control pro-tip, fill up your plate with healthy greens and salads first. Starting your meal with veggies is a surefire way to help you consume fewer calories altogether. Next, take a portion of the entree and eat slowly, savoring every bite.
4. Catch Up on Sleep
Getting enough sleep can help you maintain a healthy weight. Ghrelin and leptin, two hormones that regulate hunger, are directly affected by the amount of sleep that you get each night. With sleep deprivation, ghrelin spikes and leptin falls, which increases your hunger, which can lead to consuming more unhealthy foods. In fact, research has shown that “people who don’t get enough sleep eat twice as much fat and more than 300 extra calories the next day, compared to those who sleep for eight hours.” So, make sure that in the days leading up to the holiday, you’re sleeping enough so that you don’t wind up overeating!
Did you know that women tend to overeat and drink too much when they’re stressed? In fact, studies show that stress can cause people to eat more between-meal snacks than usual, and fewer portions of vegetables. Snacking under stress might feel good, but ultimately, it can cause you to pack on the pounds. So, find your version of self-care and spend time everyday exercising those techniques. Whether it’s taking a bath or doing some coloring, reading a book or listening to music, take the necessary time for yourself.
Remember that these tips don’t just go for the holidays, but for the moments in between too. Eating healthily, staying active, and getting a good night of sleep can stave off multiple different illnesses and ailments. When in doubt, or in need of serious assistance, consider speaking with a registered dietician nutritionist. Need help finding a dietician near you? Use Eat Right’s Find an Expert tool.