Holidays are a high-pressure time for people trying to monitor their intake.
Trust me, I get it — we spend the next two months piling our plates with a scoop of everything, wash it down with cocktails all night, and top it all off with desserts, and since we wait all year for these celebrations, we want to enjoy every minute!
My first piece of advice is usually this: Cut yourself some slack, it’s a holiday! If you truly eat whatever you’d like on a day like Thanksgiving, that is 100% okay. Your lifestyle is built upon your everyday choices, and one day of splurges is not going to topple any progress you’ve been making.
If you’d like some actual tips on how to make the holidays healthier, however, that’s also reasonable. Nutrition is largely mental, and if a free-for-all eating day is going to set you back or open up a whole season of overeating, then try these tips:
- Focus on your fruits and veggies. Nutrients matter, so even if you’re having a particularly high calorie day, try to make sure you’re getting vitamins, minerals, and fiber from plant foods! More decadent dishes like sweet potatoes with marshmallows or green been casserole will have added empty calories from the toppings, so try to scoop more veggies but less topping to cut a bit of the calories. Overall, though, eating a plate that is 50% veggie casserole is still healthier than one that is 50% macaroni and cheese.
- Try not to drink your calories. This is a huge factor to the holiday season weight gain! Light beers run around 100 calories, while heavier winter lagers are closer to 200. Seasonal craft cocktails can easily be close to 200 as well, especially as you add in sweet juices. You can still enjoy your drinks, but try to limit the number and type to keep the empty calories under control.
- Remember you can eat everything – just not in one day! It’s the holiday SEASON, so remember that there will be ample opportunity to enjoy your favorite dishes (whether it’s pie or twice baked potatoes or tasty drinks) throughout the next few months. Definitely enjoy the special items around you, especially if they’re homemade by loved ones, but remember that you don’t have to have it all at one sitting. Listen to your hunger cues and stop when you’re full so you avoid the post-meal guilt. Ask to take a slice of something else for the road if you won’t get a chance to eat it again, and enjoy it tomorrow. This will let you savor all your favorite flavors but spread the calories out over time.
I recently commented on this for a Prevention piece on how to save calories at Thanksgiving (check it out here), and I’m sure there will be many more helpful articles to come this season! Remember that your nutrition journey is not built in a day, and it certainly won’t be wrecked by a day either. Enjoy the things around you, try to eat mindfully, and continue focusing on the big picture of making overall healthy choices whenever possible– that will be a win in my book!