Tips For Healthy Holiday Eating
Samantha Nazareth, M.D.
Moving into the holiday season sparks nostalgia of spending time with the family and enjoying festive parties at work. Unfortunately, with all of that good cheer, sometimes health goals fall by the wayside. I’ve gathered some tips to help you get through this holiday season to avoid overindulging.
Don’t arrive to a party or dinner hungry. In anticipation of a large meal, sometimes we think it’s better to hold off eating until the main event. However, your body will go into overdrive and overeat once food becomes available. Treat these special days like any other day — eat regular portions before attending a holiday event. If you are feeling hungry, you can munch on a healthy snack that you keep in your bag, like nuts or raw veggies. This will prevent eating anything and everything in sight.
Follow the 2:1 rule — for every two healthy dishes you eat, one small unhealthy food can follow. Once at an event, it is hard not to eat some unhealthy items. Allow the chance to taste or have a sliver of the pie, if you have already eaten two servings of veggies/leafy greens. At least, you won’t feel as guilty eating dessert if some of it is balanced with beneficial and nutritious food items. Also, the two servings of vegetables and leafy greens serve as healthy fiber. Fiber keeps you feeling full, which will also prevent overeating the not-so-good food.
Move your body. Take a walk around the block or help clean up after eating. Do not go into complete relaxation mode and watch TV or go to sleep. Movement aids digestion. This small amount of exercise will also help to burn some calories your body needs to process.
Bring a healthy dish. Sometimes it is difficult to predict if healthy food options are available at an event. Most of the time it is expected to bring a dish to a person’s home anyway. Therefore, why not prepare and bring a healthy side dish? Some of my favorites include a homemade no-sugar cranberry sauce, roasted brussels sprouts, or baked carrots.
Be aware of mindful eating and slow down! Begin with taking the time to savor each bite and chew slowly. Digestion starts right away in the mouth (your saliva has enzymes to help break down food). Also, the mechanical act of chomping and biting helps to break down the food to a smaller form. The purpose of slowly eating allows your brain to receive the signal from the stomach of “I am full” — a process that can take up to 20 minutes. #
Any questions about gut health, wellness, or nutrition? Send them on Instagram or Twitter to @drsamnazareth.