It’s a tradition as familiar as Black Friday or trimming the tree: abandoning healthy holiday eating in favor of those tempting indulgences. But instead of dreading the scale once the last Christmas cookie crumbs have been swept away, try these six tips for eating healthy this season.
One of the most common holiday anxieties has to be how to stick to eating healthy during a season that leans towards one calorie-laden meal after another. Taking control of your stress is an important component in managing your anxiety. Remember that you control what you eat and not the other way around. If you need one, pick a mantra to repeat during especially fraught moments, and take as many deep breaths as you need to. Once you’ve decided that you are the master of your food intake, some simple planning will help you stick to a healthy holiday eating plan.
EAT A HEALTHY BREAKFAST
Planning ahead is an important part of taking control. Headed to Tia Maria’s house for her annual Three Kings brunch, or looking towards that Christmas Day family sit-down dinner with a mix of anticipation and anxiety? Eat a healthy breakfast. “Foods high in protein and fiber help you to feel fuller longer,” says Lindsay Stoulil, RD, a Brooklyn-based chef and nutritionist. “Try eggs and low-fat yogurt for protein, cooked grains such as oats, barley, and quinoa flakes and fresh fruit for fiber.”
DO YOUR OWN COOKING
Cooking your own food will help both you and family members stick to eating healthy without missing out on all the deliciousness. “When cooking your own food, it is much easier to reduce the amount of added fat, sugar and sodium,” says Stoulil. “So cook for yourself and your family as much as possible!” An added bonus is that cooking with your family is a great way to spend quality time together.
SAVOR SMALLER PORTIONS
It seems simple enough, but sticking to one modest helping will allow you to enjoy your meal without feeling guilty afterwards. Before sitting down to a big holiday spread, just make a resolution that you won’t have seconds, and then take the time to eat slowly and savor your food. This way, you won’t miss out on your favorite eats. “Big holiday meals are typically full of traditional foods that your family might only enjoy once or twice a year,” says Stoulil. “Don’t deny yourself a favorite dish, instead take a small spoonful and enjoy each bite.”
It’s not just that alcohol comes with it’s own significant calorie count, it’s also that when you drink, you lose the ability to make smart judgment calls about healthy holiday eating. Decide ahead of time that you’ll be sticking to one drink at the annual office party or family Christmas festivities, or make the decision to abstain from alcohol altogether.
SAY GOODBYE TO LEFTOVERS
A huge holiday meal tends to hang around the house long after the holidays are over in the form of delicious—but diet-busting—leftovers. Make a promise to yourself that you’ll banish leftovers from your home. “Send leftover pie and cheese and butter-laden sides home with family and friends, or bring them over to a neighbors house,” advises Stoulil. And keep in mind, it’s not like you’ll never get to eat this stuff again—you have next year’s festive foods to look forward to!