Nov02Healthy Eating Strategies to Use During The Holidays

The holiday season brings on gifts, cheer, and fond memories. One negative thing it might bring is anxiety about food. Many people struggle with the holiday eating chaos, and we understand why; you’ve worked so hard in and out of the gym, and don’t want to lose all that progress during a month of questionable food choices.

So what’s a person to do? Should you just give in and eat everything in sight, and consider this your “winter bulk”? As fun as that sounds, you should still aim to maintain as much discipline and consistency during the holidays. It still takes some work, but there are some eating strategies you can implement that can help you navigate the minefield of the chaotic holiday eating struggle. Below are our some of our favorite eating strategies to keep you on track during the holiday season.

 

Eat the best-for-you options first.

If you run into the issue of eating all the sweets on site, try this simple strategy. When eating during the holidays, try going for the healthiest options first. There might not always be super healthy options available, but by choosing the best alternatives you help keep yourself from gorging on excess calories. So opt for the turkey, green beans, and as many veggies that are available, instead of going straight for the pie.

What if there aren’t any healthy options? Make some! There are plenty of delicious recipes that involve generous amounts of veggies, and your family with thank you for a delicious and healthy food option.

 

Snack on some healthy food options before the big holiday dinner.

Another strategy is to fill up on some healthy snacks before that big family dinner. You can munch on some crisp veggies or fruit to fill yourself up a bit, that way you’ll be less inclined to overeat at the table. You can do this before you leave home, or you can snack on some foods before eating.

Try to eat something light, like carrots, celery, apples, or other crunchy good-for-you snacks before the larger meal.

 

Tune in to your fullness and satiated cues.

Many people gorge themselves on the holidays, and disregard their bodies’ natural eating cues. These autoregulatory sensors are the body’s way of telling you when to eat and when to stop.

When eating, try to slow down and focus on each bite. Give yourself time to enjoy your food, and allow yourself to feel satisfied, but not full. Full is when you can’t eat anymore; satisfied is when you have had enough. When we aren’t in tune with how we feel during our meals, we tend to eat too much until we physically can’t eat anymore.

Speaking of listening to your body, slow down on your eating and focus on savoring each bite, instead of wolfing it down like a vacuum. It’s easy to get distracted when eating, but this can lead us to overeat without knowing it. If you take just 5 extra minutes to eat, you might end up feeling fuller faster, thus keeping you from eating those extra calories.

 

Don’t skip meals.

You might feel tempted to skip meals to make room for the large holiday dinner, but this can sabotage your eating.

Skipping your meals might seem like a good idea at first, because the thinking is that if you’re going to eat a bunch of food at dinner, why not skip lunch or breakfast to offset all that eating? But what might happen is that you eat even more; because you skipped a meal, you could be putting yourself in an even hungrier state, thus allowing yourself to go for those extra-high caloric foods (sweets, fatty foods, alcohol, etc.).

So try not to skip meals, but instead eat healthier ones and just use portion control. If you have those regular meals, you’ll be less inclined to gorge yourself during the big holiday gatherings.

 

Control your environment.

What you’re immediately surrounded by can have more of an effect on you than you might think. It’s harder to resist tempting foods when that’s all your surrounded by, so an easy fix is to switch your surroundings.

Try sitting next to a fellow healthy eater, as you’ll both feel reinforced by each others choices, or sit closer to the healthier options at the dining table, and you’ll be more inclined to choose from those options.

 

Lose the guilt.

Probably the most important mindset piece on this list: lose the guilt that you have surrounding eating during the holidays. If you have health & fitness goals and have made progress towards them, that’s great. Even better if you can continue making progress during the holiday season by using some of these strategies on this list. But if you feel guilty from splurging even just a little, that guilt can do more harm than good.

It reinforces the thought process that “bad food” is bad and you are bad for eating it, which sets up an unhealthy relationship with food. Instead, try to implement a few good healthy eating strategies that you can stick with during the holidays, and if you eat some pie here or there, count that as a little well-deserved treat. The holidays only last a small part of the year, which won’t set you back if you’re putting in the work the rest of the year.


Let go of any negative feelings you have about holiday eating, and instead focus on positive changes that you can make to help you navigate holiday eating. Try to use these strategies in the coming months, and add some of your own that help keep you on track!