Autumn and Winter can start to bring panic when it comes to food. With Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year. There are a lot of social and family events that can bring up unhealthy habits and make it hard to stay healthy during the holidays.
Wouldn’t it be nice to not have to worry when the holidays come round?
That’s exactly what a healthy lifestyle can do! There are no restrictions, no calorie counting, but that doesn’t mean you eat junk food. Changing your habits around food means you’ll automatically make healthier choices, and enjoy it! That’s not to say you can’t still enjoy that Thanksgiving dessert or chocolates at Christmas but in moderation and guilt-free. Do any of us actually enjoy overindulging and starting again in January?
How to make healthy choices in the holidays
Does the thought of the holiday period stress you out? Or reach for the lowest calorie foods and start restricting your food so you can eat whatever you want when Christmas comes round?
One of the biggest things that can help you make healthy choices in the holidays is a change of mindset. Restricting food can lead to binge eating, so try to think about healthy food you can add to your meals, not what you shouldn’t be eating. My favourite phrase is “crowding out”. So you’re crowding out the bad food without realising it, by eating more nutritious foods, like incorporating more vegetables into your diet.
Stay hydrated and sip on water throughout the day. Sometimes hunger can be our body’s way of signalling it’s dehydrated.
How can I avoid putting on weight in the holidays?
I know when it comes to health so many of us automatically think of weight.
If weight is your main concern then some of these things may help;
- Eat mindfully – when we’re watching TV or in a social environment, it can be easy to not be paying attention to how much we’re eating. Eating slowly and listening to cues from your body can help you notice when you’re full.
- Portion control – Try to fill at least half of your plate with vegetables (not including potatoes).
- Drink a glass of water – Drinking water before you eat can help fill you up. Sometimes when we feel hungry we’re actually dehydrated. It’s also better to drink water before you eat and not while you’re eating as drinking cold water while you’re eating can slow the digestion process down.
Even if weight is your main concern, health is not a size or shape. It starts from the inside out. Taking care of ourselves, our mental health and feeling good about who we are NOW. When you nourish your body with nutritious foods it can start to take its natural shape and size.
I mean would you fill your car up with Coca Cola or petrol? Diets create a false impression of healthy, and just because a soda is 0 calories does not make it a healthy choice.
Healthy holiday tips
- Homemade vs processed: Try to eat more homemade foods than processed foods. There are plenty of foods that you can prep and make ahead of time to make it stress-free.
- Add vegetables: Add in vegetables wherever you can and for a main meal try to fill at least half of your plate with colourful vegetables.
- Talk a walk: Having a walk after a meal can help aid digestion but also gives you some time to relax and get in some exercise and fresh air.
- Exercise: If you’re going to struggle with time or motivation to get in your normal workouts, then find movement you can enjoy. Going for a walk, a family bike ride, or playing and running around with the kids.
- Watch your alcohol intake: It can be easy to overindulge in gin and tonics, wine, and Baileys over the holiday season, but try to stay mindful, and drinking a glass of water between each alcoholic drink can help keep you hydrated.
- Choosing healthier alternatives: Opt for healthier alternatives like Greek yoghurt instead of cream with your dessert, hummus as a dip for your tortilla chips, or roasted sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes.
- Mindset: Get rid of the all or nothing approach. Restriction can cause us to binge eat, so try thinking of foods to add in, like vegetables, instead of things to avoid.
Holiday time can be hard around family and friends who may not eat the same way and pressures can build encouraging you to eat something you really don’t want to. Breaking these habits can take time. So if you feel pressured, don’t be hard on yourself, feel guilty or stressed because you’ve “given in”. Perfection doesn’t exist. Taking small steps in the right direction is massive progress.