Do your health and wellness goals go out the window during the holidays? Do you fall off the healthy-eating wagon and end up feeling guilty? You’re not alone! Fortunately, it is possible to enjoy the holidays without feeling awful afterwards. While one day of indulgence obviously isn’t going to derail you, if you’ve got several events to attend this holiday season then you may want to be more mindful.
Here are my top 5 tips for surviving the holidays without derailing your health and wellness goals:
- Don’t arrive to the party hungry. I know it’s counterintuitive to eat just before going to a party where you are expecting a great deal of food, but if you want to avoid overeating at your office Christmas fete or family gathering then eat a snack rich in protein, fibre, and healthy fat before you go. In fact, you want to make sure that you eat a healthy breakfast and lunch earlier in the day as well. This will prevent you from bingeing at the party. It will also prevent the extreme blood sugar spike that can come from indulging in all of the refined carbs and sweets at holiday gatherings. Frequent blood sugar spikes can lead to mood swings, hormonal imbalances and weight gain so maintaining stable blood sugar is key.
Examples of pre-party snacks that are high in protein, fat, and fibre include a handful of walnuts or almonds with some dates, carrot or celery sticks with cottage cheese or hummus, a hard-boiled egg with an apple, or a smoothie packed with fibre, protein, and healthy fat.
2. Choose a smaller plate. If you choose the largest plate you will inevitably fill it up and then end up overeating. A smaller plate forces you to choose smaller portions of the foods that you really want rather than a heaping serving of every item on the menu.
3. Limit the number of high-glycemic foods and beverages you choose. This includes sweets, dinner rolls (or any bread made from white flour), potatoes, soda, fruit juice, and other sweetened beverages. This doesn’t mean that you can’t eat any of these foods, it simply means that you should choose 1-2 of these items instead of all of them. So, if you are looking forward to dessert, skip the bread. If you live for bread, say no to the mashed potatoes. Stick to water instead of juice or soda. Also, be sure to add some fibre to your plate in the form of non-starchy vegetables – this will prevent blood sugar spikes from the one or two high-glycemic foods you do choose to eat.
4. Chew your food thoroughly and eat slowly to ensure that you digest your food properly, and to allow time for your brain to receive the signal from your stomach that it is full before you overeat. Eat until you feel satiated, not until your plate is clean. Better yet, stick to small portions so you don’t waste food. You can always get seconds if you’re still hungry and then you don’t have to feel guilty about not finishing every last morsel on your plate. No one likes feeling as if their stomach is about to explode!
5. If you still end up overeating and feeling bloated, sip on some ginger or peppermint tea to ease your symptoms.
While bloating and discomfort after a large holiday meal may not be a cause for concern, if you regularly experience bloating, heartburn, stomach pain, constipation or diarrhea, then you should see your doctor to rule out any serious health concerns, and seek advice from a nutritionist to improve your digestion. Chronic digestive issues, while common, are not normal and can often lead to more serious health conditions so don’t ignore your symptoms! As a holistic nutritionist I can work with you to improve your diet and lifestyle so that you can feel your best.