12 Tips for Healthy Festive Eating
It’s easy to get carried away with the holiday vibes. Not only do we throw caution to the wind when it comes to rest, but our healthy eating habits also seem to fade away. We feast like there’s no tomorrow, which could likely be the case if we keep overstraining our waistline and arteries.
We’re not suggesting that you deprive yourself of the scrumptious holiday food, or take your treats with a side order of guilt. Instead, by practicing mindful and healthy eating and cooking, you can come through the holidays without having to make “go on a diet” one of your New Year’s resolutions.
If maintaining a good eating pattern over the holiday season is important to you, then here are 12 simple tips to maximise health and enjoyment during the festivities:
1. Stick to a Schedule
In general, scheduling what and when you eat can help you maintain a balanced diet. Besides maintaining your blood sugar levels, regular meal timing also helps to promote digestion.
2. Don’t go on Empty
Going extended periods of time without eating can increase our likelihood of eating more than you need during the next meal. You may also eat more quickly which can negatively impact digestion. Skipping lunch to compensate for a festive calorie-dunked dinner is a terrible idea. Eating regular meals, will keep your blood sugar stable and prevent cravings. So, you’re far less likely to overeat.
3. Take a Breather
It takes a few minutes for your stomach’s “I’m getting full” signal to get to your brain. Take a 20-minute break after your first helping. You may find that you’re actually full and can skip the seconds!
4. Get Busy!
We get that it’s tough to catch-up on exercise during the holidays. What’s more, doing any kind of heavy-lifting during the festive season is probably the last thing on your mind. Yes, you deserve to rest and relax, but it’s pays to get busy while having fun. Go for a walk, have a little dance session at home or take the family out for some festive and active fun at the park.
5. Go Slow on the Alcohol
No doubt the festive season is more lively with some wine and a few cans of beer. There’s no harm in consuming some alcohol, especially if you’re more of a festive drinker, but it pays to practice moderation. Drink slowly and choose water before and after eating. Alcohol can increase your appetite and diminish your ability to control what you eat.
6. Fill up with the Good Stuff
Don’t overlook fruits and vegetables. They make great snacks and even better sides to festive dishes. Don’t just go for the meat and pastries. Get your daily intake of vitamins and fibre from the leafy greens and avoid overeating oily, sugary and processed foods. Excessive intake of these foods can increase the risk of developing health issues like diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
7. Practice Portion Control
Research has shown that people consistently eat more food when offered larger portions. So portion control is important – especially during the festive season – when you’re trying to eat healthy and keep the excess weight off. This way, you eat what your body needs, instead of mindlessly overindulging.
8. Keep Your Emotions in Check
Emotional eating doesn’t necessarily happen when you’re sad or upset. Sometimes the hype and joy we feel during the festivities can cause us to lose track of when and what we consume. Don’t get carried away with the season, instead, evaluate if you’re really feeling hungry and eat only when necessary.
9. Sit Down and Enjoy!
When you sit down for a meal, you eat more leisurely, which helps you manage your appetite and avoid extra calories. You’re also likely to chew your food more thoroughly when sitting, which aids digestion. Plus, it can help prevent symptoms of heartburn and stomach cramps.
10. Rest it Up
This can be particularly challenging with the increase of parties and family in town. But, sticking to your sleep schedule can significantly improve your eating habits. Lack of sleep may affect hunger-regulating hormones, which can lead to eating more food more often. Cravings may also increase for foods that are higher in added sugar, fat and sodium.
11. Cook with Heart
To show family and friends that you care for them and their health, be creative with traditional festive recipes and use less butter, cream, lard, vegetable shortening, and other ingredients rich in saturated fats. Homemade trumps processed food any day! Cooking from – and for – the heart, is sure to keep everyone healthy and happy.
12. Stay Focused
Although food is an integral part of the holidays, put the focus on family and friends, laughter and cheer. If balance and moderation are your usual guides, it’s okay to indulge once in a while – such as during the festive season.