The holidays are upon us and that means that it’s time for some good old-fashioned holiday dinners with family.
Research shows that people tend to lose sight of their diets and nutritional needs during this period.
It’s probably due to the overabundance of greasy and delicious food that is featured during these dinners. It’s important that you resist the temptation to ruin your diet.
Here are some ways to stick to healthy eating during this festive season.
Reflect on how you feel
Now that the holidays are upon us, it’s important that you take the time to reflect on your current state of mind. How have you been feeling lately? If you’re constantly bored, exhausted, and unmotivated, there has to be something you can do about it.
Think about your nutrition, first and foremost. It’s one of the most overlooked parts of our health. What you eat has an enormous impact on how you feel every single day. Unsurprisingly, bad nutrition can lead to the aforementioned feelings. Because of this, you might want to take a step back and review what you’ve been eating recently.
Certain kinds of diets aren’t suited for the long term. You’ll find that eating unhealthy food will eventually start making you feel unhealthy. This is because your body recognizes nutritional deficiencies and it wants to signal that something needs changing.
Feeling lethargic could be a result of not eating food that provides you with stable energy. Most people would think that sugar and sugary drinks would provide an adequate amount of energy, but that’s only partially true. You get a ton of energy in a short amount of time, but it quickly dissipates.
Lots of sugar leads to a spike in insulin, which then reduces your sugar and causes you to crash. A lack of brain-food can make you feel slow and sluggish throughout the day. When you have any kind of nutritional deficiency, it helps to identify the problem and accommodate your diet.
Take a minute before seconds
The holidays often bring with them some delicious food. It’s hard to say no to those lavish and plentiful dinners. The food is practically made for you to indulge in several servings before you’re full. Because of this, the holiday season is known as the time when you eat your fill and then some. This can often prove to be pretty stressful for a person’s body, especially if they weren’t keeping the healthiest diet in their free time. More often than not, there’s enough food to go for seconds, thirds, and fourths, without having to worry about it running out.
In these situations, it’s smart to avoid overeating too much. It is part of the holiday spirit, but you can always try to show some restraint, at least for the sake of your health. Before you go back for seconds, remember to wait a short while. Have a drink, perhaps. Chat with family members that are feeling talkative. Get yourself a glass of water while you reflect on the holiday cheer.
You’re not doing this to avoid food cravings, but rather to give your body a minute to process the food you’ve eaten. Our stomach doesn’t instantly recognize that it’s full. It takes a while before the "I’m full" signal can make its way from your stomach to your brain. During this time, it’s practically a free-for-all when it comes to food. You can overeat without noticing you’ve eaten more than you can handle.
When pacing yourself properly, you can easily note when you’ve eaten too much. If, after taking a short break, you no longer feel like having a second portion, you can be sure that the signal has reached your bran and you’re pretty much stuffed already. It’s a smart move that will leave you feeling healthier and it will help you avoid too much discomfort after your big holiday meal.
Chew it out
Most people don’t chew their food all the way through. It’s simply a part of how people eat nowadays. When you’re in a rush, you’ll find it difficult to make time to chew your food in a complete manner. Plus, most people don’t know how much they should be chewing food before they swallow. Because of this, it’s likely that the food isn’t digested optimally and a tiny bit of its nutritional value is lost.
While you might be in a rush to finish dinner, you should probably take your time with the food. It’s a special occasion, so why not savour the delicious cooking? Chewing your food all the way allows you to enjoy the flavor completely. It also helps reduce portion sizes by quite a bit. Chewing the food all the way through gives your stomach time to process the last portion and it helps improve digestion.
Don’t always clean plates
Parents will often teach their children to eat everything off of their plate and not leave the table until they do so. This is considered the politest way to end your meal and leaving any scraps is a sign that you didn’t enjoy the meal enough to finish it.
Children are also encouraged to finish every meal simply because it should help them get the nutrients that they need to grow. However, forcefully cleaning the plate every time you eat isn’t the best way to end your meal. As an adult, you’ll know how to pick your portions and when to stop eating on your own. The pressure from thanksgiving dinners with family could bring you back to finishing plates, though.
Make sure you know when to stop eating. Your body should have the final say in when you’ve finished your meal. Even if there’s something left over, you shouldn’t force yourself to eat it. Not only is it uncomfortable and bad for your stomach, but it also adds unnecessary calories to your diet.
Stick to small plates
As bizarre as it might sound, the size of the plate has a huge influence on how much you eat. You would expect the food to be the deciding factor, and not the plate it’s on. However, it’s not all about how much food you’re eating, it’s about how much food you think you’re eating. A bigger plate will give the illusion of a smaller amount of food. This means you’ll think you need more even though you’ve eaten a fair amount of food.
A smaller plate might leave you with a smaller portion of food, but it’s still a whole plate of food. Your mind will register it as such and you’ll feel fuller a lot quicker than you normally would. Plus, by the time you decide to go for seconds, part of the food you’ve eaten will be acknowledged by your stomach and you will be fuller.
For those all you can eat types of buffets, smaller plates can help you control your portion sizes with more accuracy. Instead of stuffing everything on a large plate, you’ll get a good idea of what you’ve put in your portions.
Choose your drinks wisely
Holiday festivities will often have a wide variety of drinks to choose from. Everything both alcoholic and non-alcoholic should be featured, giving you ample choices when you need something to wash your food down with. However, not all drinks are created equal and some are unhealthier than others.
Sodas and sugary drinks are one option that is unfortunately as unhealthy as it gets. They tend to be chock-full of sugar, while not offering much in terms of nutritional value. All they do is cause a spike in glucose, followed by a spike in insulin. They get you tired a lot faster than you might think, and they are absolutely packed with unhealthy calories. They should be avoided at all costs.
Fruit drinks and mixes are a deceptive bunch of beverages. You probably see them as a somewhat healthy alternative to sodas, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Fruit concentrates and juices are just as sugary as their soda counterparts, they just use a different kind of flavour and they lack the same kind of fizz.
Even alcoholic beverages aren’t exactly healthy, even when you disregard the alcohol itself. Ethanol is something that directly turns to calories once you’ve consumed it. Beer contains tons of calories and it can pack a few pounds all on its own, so don’t underestimate it. Instead of switching to harder alcohols or sticking to water alone, you might want to consider freshly squeezed juice or fizzy water. Wine is another great alternative that goes well with most food.
Sit down and enjoy the meal
Holidays might be a fun and wholesome part of the year, but they’re also often pretty busy. You’re constantly on the move. Whether it’s preparing for work or trying to reach your relatives, there’s always some kind of rush going on. It gets even worse once you’ve actually reached your relative’s house. If you’re involved in the cooking or preparations, you better believe that it’s going to take a chunk of your time.
When you’re hanging out with family, there will be some relatives that you haven’t seen in a long time. While you’re busy eating, drinking, and chatting away, it’s likely that you’ll be too busy to even sit down and eat properly. However, this is something that could hamper your eating experience.
Eating on the go can make it difficult to gouge how much you’ve been eating all night. You’ll be grabbing a different plate after setting one down and you’ll easily lose track of what you’ve eaten. This can be detrimental if you are looking to lose a few pounds.
Try to find the time to sit down and enjoy your meal. It’s going to make the dining experience a lot more enjoyable and you won’t have to worry about losing track of any calories. Make sure you take your time and dine on all the different foods available, to give yourself a wide array of nutrients. It’s going to be a lot better than just snacking away at the easiest foods as you go.
Eat the right food
Holiday dinners are often packed with a diverse range of foods. Everything from different meats to the most interesting and delicious salads will be featured at the buffet. Despite this, very few individuals will opt to take a little bit of everything on their plate. They’re a lot more likely to stick with the most familiar meals that they enjoy. Because of this, the wide variety is mostly wasted and people will eat the same things over and over again.
This is a missed opportunity to get some healthy eating at the buffet table. One of the key tenets of a healthy diet is variety. Introducing a lot of different nutrients will help your body restock on some key vitamins and minerals. When there’s a plethora of food available, make use of it in the best possible way.
other valuable tips:
Unsurprisingly, one of the most interesting foods featured in holiday dinners will be the salads. People don’t normally put a ton of effort into their salads because it’s only something you have on the side. However, holiday dinners are the ideal opportunity to taste some more diverse leafy options.
The one thing that holidays usually lack is a range of healthy carbohydrate-rich foods. If your diet includes slow-releasing carbs, you might not find them among the protein and fat-rich foods that are usually featured in holiday dinners. Fitness enthusiasts will often bring their own healthy carbohydrate supplements to add a little extra nutrition to their dinner. It’s a small addition that can help keep your diet consistent even through the mass of food you’re going to eat during the holidays.
Once the holidays start, you need to stay vigilant when it comes to what you’re eating. Don’t let the length of the holidays fool you. Even if you only gorge yourself for a day or two at your relative’s place, it’s something that can setback your health goals by quite a bit. Try your best to stick to your principles and eat accordingly. Consider these tips and you’re going to be well on your way to enjoy the holidays without feeling guilty about eating.
Image Credit: nutrition tips by Pixabay
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