Healthful Tips for the Holidays

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By Viktoria Cojan

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year” … and do you know what that means? Lots of home-cooked holiday food! All those family gatherings and all the feasts that come along with them tend to make most people eat more than they want and leave them feeling stuffed, not satisfied. The holidays are meant for spending quality time with our loved ones, not for worrying about gaining weight. It can be extremely hard to eat healthy and not to over-indulge around the holidays, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are some tips to keep in mind to avoid over-indulgence during the holidays:

  1. Don’t arrive on an empty stomach: It can be really tempting to skip meals so you can have more room for the feast, but that doesn’t help. Skipping meals or going on an empty stomach can cause you to overeat more than if you came with a slightly satisfied tummy. Coming slightly satisfied can help reduce that urge to eat a lot. Therefore, before arriving at the party have a snack or something light, such as fresh fruits, veggies, or a salad.
  2. Portion Control: There are two main ways to control your portions, the first is using a smaller plate and the second is getting smaller amounts of food on a regular sized plate. Having a small plate can give you the impression that you ate more than you actually did and makes your brain think you had enough. However, this may not be a realistic way to control your portion at a family dinner table. Generally, the hosts set the table in a showy and extravagant way so the plate you get will most likely be pretty big. In this case the better alternative would be to get a smaller portion of food. This allows you to control your intake while still enjoying all the different types of food available at the table. In addition, if you start by filling your plate with vegetables and salad first, it can help you eat fewer calories overall.
  3. Bring your own healthy dish to the gathering: If you know that there won’t be many healthy options that you enjoy, bring something from home. This will provide you with a good menu option, and will also make the host happier for the extra help.
  4. Eat slowly: Take your time and enjoy every bite you take. It takes a few minutes for your brain to realize that you are full so by eating at a slower pace, you will be less likely to eat more than needed. An easy way to naturally slow down your eating is to be involved in the conversation. If you are using your mouth to talk instead of to eat, then you will eat at a slower pace without even realizing.
  5. Leave the table when you are done eating: By staying at the table after you are done eating, you may be tempted to consume more even if you are no longer hungry. Therefore, staying long enough to enjoy the meal, but leaving the table right after can help remove more of the temptations to over-indulge. If you are worried that it would be rude to leave the table, you can try to offer to help clean up the table or do the dishes. This way you can still stick around with your loved ones in the kitchen, and even help remove the temptation from the others at the table to eat more food.

The holidays are a time for celebration and joy, they are about much more than just the big feasts. These tips can help you prevent over-indulgence. However, don’t forget to enjoy the holidays, and not to stop yourself from enjoying your favorite holiday foods. In the long run, it will be worth it. Plus, these special times only come once a year so enjoy them. Happy Holidays!

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