As a nutritionist, I get asked about tips and tricks for staying healthy over the holidays all the time. Misleading magazine and online articles have us believing we need to restrict certain foods/food groups and overcome our cravings (without offering any direction or reason why), but that advice contributes to poor eating habits, and ultimately, an unhealthy mindset around food.
With the unexpected year we’ve had, the holidays feel as if they bring something more magical than the typical joy and merriment. This year, they bring a glimpse of normalcy. So, let’s embrace these upcoming seasons with gratitude and mindfulness, and leave our worries of the calories in mashed potatoes and gingerbread cookies at the door (or the waiting room if you’re on Zoom). Here are my Top 5 Tips for Healthy Holidays.
IT’S NOT ABOUT THE FOOD
Roasts, casseroles, pies, and cookies lined up on display and filling the room like a kaleidoscope of scents. Though the food itself seems to be the centerpiece of the holidays, it’s the act of gathering and spending time around your friends and family that is truly what is being celebrated. Don’t make food your center of attention. Instead, let yourself get pleasure from eating without restriction (food is meant to be part of celebration!) and spend this time focusing on what the season is about and why you’re gathered.
My favorite mantra, and one you most likely have heard before, is “Be Here Now.” It’s a daily reminder to be in the now, live in the moment, and connect with the present. The “what if’s” and “to-do’s” only interfere with our ability to concentrate on being present and it takes away from the spirit of the holiday season. Wrap presents, bake, and cuddle up to a cozy fire with a book or favorite holiday drink and take a mental note about how you feel when you are fully present.
Plan ahead your meals for the week. There’s no excuse to “fall off the wagon” when you have a plan! By doing this, you allow yourself the *fabulous* option to have a healthy snack before attending holiday engagements so that you’re not showing up completely starving – a surefire way to end up uncomfortably full.
You can also bring your own dish to a holiday! Not only can this be helpful to your host, but it provides you (and others) a nutrient-dense meal option. I’ve added a few recipes below if you need some inspiration!
PRACTICE MINDFUL EATING
Giving yourself permission to enjoy all food takes away the scarcity and urgency factor when it comes to eating. However, it’s important to check in with yourself throughout your meal and gauge how hungry you truly are.
The key is to eat slowly. Chewing your food (even putting your silverware down in between bites) gives your body time to catch up and start the digestion process. Asking yourself questions like: “How am I feeling?, Do I want more?, Am I eating more because it’s there?, Am I starting to feel full?” helps to observe the signs and signals your body sends to you about your hunger. Practicing mindful eating even beyond the holidays will help you to better trust and learn the levels of hunger and fullness that are unique to you.
GIVE YOURSELF GRACE
If you’ve indulged in an extra helping of Grandma’s famous casserole, enjoy it and move on. There is no point in dwelling on your food choices. Instead, use this as a learning experience, create a plan for the next time, and make sure to add an extra scoop of veggies to your meal – they are full of fiber and nutrients, the perfect way to add volume to your dish, and keep you satisfied longer.
Regardless of how you chose to celebrate the holidays this year, I hope these tips take a bit of stress off your plate (to make room for some roasted vegetables, of course) and you are able to close out 2020 on a high note.
Wishing you a healthy and safe holiday season!
Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Butternut Squash
Basil Pesto Roasted Cauliflower
Now that we are almost 3 weeks into 2021 and nearing the end of January, we at Spring have had time to reflect. We’ve reflected on our past year as a company, on our products, but most importantly, on our mission and vision.