Pie. Cookies. Chocolate. Eggnog. Champagne. The holiday season is filled with good foods. You eat and drink with your friends and loved ones to celebrate how much you care about them. But we all know that too much of a good thing is no longer good. Too many rich foods can lead to extra pounds, digestion upsets, mood swings and a generally “yucky” feeling. It’s all about balance. Good, healthy holiday eating can make the difference between an enjoyable holiday season and a miserable one. The trick is to enjoy treats without overdoing them. Make a healthy holiday eating strategy and plan to enjoy the holiday celebrations without feeling bad the next day.
Healthy Holiday Eating Strategies
Strategy #1 Moderate
Decide on a moderate way to approach treats that are most tempting to you. Avoid brash decisions like “I won’t have any holiday cookies this year.” It’s easy to break unreasonable rules. Instead, make a moderate healthy holiday eating plan. For example, if cookies are your nemesis, allow yourself to eat 1 cookie at the holiday cookie exchange. If you can’t decide between your 2 favorite cookies, have a half of each. Either way you won’t feel deprived but you won’t overdo. Pick your battles to get maximum enjoyment with minimal deprivation.
Strategy #2 Substitute
Find healthy alternatives for rich, high calorie food. Substitute nuts and fruits (both fresh and dried) for cookies or candy. Drink juice instead of soda, and herbal tea instead of juice. Make eggnog with skim milk instead of cream. During a meal, eat mostly vegetables instead of potatoes and stuffing. And remember, sweet potatoes with brown sugar or marshmallows are closer to a dessert than a vegetable.
Strategy #3 Avoid Hunger
The hungrier you are, the more likely you will binge on bad foods. Remember to eat breakfast. Eat a healthy meal before you go to a party. Start every big meal with hot soup. Fill up with healthy food so you don’t race to the bad stuff.
Strategy #4 Maintain Healthy Routines
Don’t stop your healthy habits just because it’s a holiday. Continue to drink lots of water and get enough sleep. Make time to exercise. Spend meaningful time with your loved ones. Take time to meditate or pray. Get outside. Maintain the healthy habits that you already have. When you feel good, you’ll be less inclined to eat foods that make you feel bad.
Strategy #5 Journal
Keep track of what you eat and how you’re feeling. Write about your stresses and emotional upsets. Compose poems and short stories. Keeping a journal will give you a non-eating outlet for stress, and remind yourself how good it feels to be healthy, happy and creative.
Strategy #6 Trick Yourself
Trick yourself into thinking you’re eating a lot.Use small plates to make modest pie portions seem larger. Pour drinks into tall, skinny glasses to drink less. Fill your dinner plate with salad before adding the entrees. Full plates make small portions seem big.
Strategy #7 Partner Up
Get a healthy holiday eating buddy. Partners make it easier to keep your healthy commitments in the face of indulgences. They provide accountability and support.
Strategy #8 Commit
Look through this list of strategies and pick the ones that are the most helpful and the least difficult. Write down your list of healthy holiday eating guidelines and post them where you see them several times a day. Commit to following them. Don’t allow yourself excuses to break your rules.
Strategy #9 Tune Up
Now is a great time for an acupuncture tune-up. Acupuncture helps balance your body so it’s easier to make healthy choices.