The holiday season is here! This is one of my favorite times of the year! Fun and happiness are found all around us! I love the music, the gatherings, the church socials, the holiday baking, and special meals with loved ones. I love it all!
With all this fun and festivity comes a lot of holiday food. Use these easy tips to eat healthier during the holiday season. When the New Year hits, you will start it off with a bang knowing you made great, healthy choices during the holiday season.
1. Choose a smaller plate.
Since the 1960s, dinner plates in the United States have increased about 22%. Dinner plates in the 1960s were only 9 inches in diameter. By the 2000s, the dinner plate had increased to 11 inches in diameter. By increasing the diameter by 22%, the area- and hence, the amount of food a plate can hold- is 1.5 times larger!
There is something emotionally satisfying when you see a full plate of food. During the holidays, you can serve a lot of food on an 11-inch plate, which means a lot more calories! I have both sizes of dinner plates in my home. Our family will be using the smaller size plates this holiday season. We will still see a full plate of food and trick our brains into feeling more fulfilled on fewer calories.
Are you interested in learning more about how plate sizes affect food choices and food portions? Here is an excellent case study found at National Center for Biotechnology Information. The study concluded with, “these findings support the concept that adult participants’ estimates of dinner meal size may be shaped by plate size.” It’s a motivating study!
2. Drink plenty of water.
We all know that drinking water is essential. Still, when we visit others or have family visiting, we can forget to drink water. To increase my water consumption, I love to infuse water with cucumbers and lemon. I make a large pitcher and put it in the fridge. The chilled water tastes great, is visually appealing, and I enjoy drinking it even more.
A fun, festive way to infuse water is with cranberries and limes for the holiday season. Another tasty combination is to infuse strawberries and limes. To infuse water, you wash the fruit/veggies. Cut the veggies and fruits and add them to a pitcher of water. Put the pitcher of water in the fridge for at least an hour. The longer it sits, the better it will taste. I love how the red of the cranberries or strawberries and the green of the limes bring out the Christmas colors.
When their water looks beautiful and tastes good, many people find that they drink more water. Infused water is a tip to use year-round!
3. Provide Healthy Party Foods.
During the holiday season, we often visit others or attend parties. Parties are fun, and we eat differently than we usually do. One great way to make sure the party you are attending has healthy options is to bring along a dish and make it a healthy one. This will ensure there are tasty, healthy foods for you to enjoy, and the host of the party will love the help.
Guests will love a colorful fruit salad in seasonal colors- green and red grapes, raspberries, and kiwi. Another one that the party-goers will love is hummus and veggies. My favorite is Cowboy Caviar. It is a Texas salsa appetizer that is delicious.
The big secret to eating healthy at a holiday party is bringing a dish you like. Then you know there will be healthy food you enjoy.
4. Eat your veggies first.
Most of us eat far fewer vegetables than is recommended. When I sit down to eat a delicious meal, I often see the main dish and want to dig in. I eat way too much and then don’t feel like eating the vegetable side dishes. Eating your vegetables first is a great trick to fill up on healthy food and get the daily recommended servings of vegetables before moving on to other foods.
Another great way to eat healthier this holiday season is to make the salad the star of the meal. How often do we have just a simple salad? Instead, load the salad with tons of appetizing veggies, nuts, and items that you find delicious. I love salad bars. Make your salads at home shine like your favorite salad bar to get more vegetables in your diet this holiday season.
5. Eat slowly.
It takes approximately 20 minutes from the time you start eating for your brain to send out fullness signals. Leisurely eating allows the brain to trigger being full, so we know when to stop eating. When a person eats quickly, the brain doesn’t have time to register when they get full, and over-eating is often the result. Take time to slow down and savor your food. You will eat less food and enjoy what you do eat more completely.
Emotionally, eating slowly is good for you too. It allows time for conversation and connecting with family or friends sharing the meal with you. Take the time to slow down while eating your meal and enjoy the conversation. As you do so, know that your brain is working to create healthy eating habits and avoid over-eating.
Other Ways to Stay Healthy During the Holiday Season
Exercise might be more challenging with visitors in your home or if you are traveling. A good tip is to move more often. Get out for short ten-minute walks a few times a day and have others join you. Make your movement social where you can talk with family or friends. Being active is your secret holiday weapon to make healthy choices. It keeps your metabolism up and burns off calories from holiday treats.
Get Your sleep
During the holidays, we often stay up way too late visiting and having fun. This sets us up to not eat healthy the next day. When we are sleep-deprived, we tend to eat more, and we prefer comfort foods with high-fat and high-sugar content. Plan for 7-8 hours of sleep a night to avoid mindless eating. Good sleepers tend to eat fewer calories.
I found an interesting case study indicating that insufficient sleep is linked to obesity.
Among 245 women enrolled in a 6-month weight-loss program, better subjective sleep quality increased the likelihood of successful weight loss by 33%, as did sleeping more than 7 hours per night.Canadian Medical Association Journal
Adequate sleep is part of a healthy lifestyle. An excellent way to make sure you get enough sleep is to plan what time you will go to bed and set the alarm on your phone. When the alarm goes off, quickly wrap up what you are doing and go to bed. Your body will thank you in the morning.
Enjoy the Holiday Season
Be gentle with yourself. If you slip up, that is Okay! Just get right back to healthy eating on your next meal. Don’t beat yourself up with negative self-talk. Usually, we would never tell our best friend what we tell ourselves in our minds.
Most importantly, enjoy yourself this holiday. Enjoy your family. Enjoy your friends. Take time to love others and be with them. You never know how long you have been with someone so take time to be with them. Smile, laugh, and hug; life is better this way.
Have a happy, healthy holiday! ~Sharee
More Holiday Reading
- Celebrating Christmas: the Birth, Gifts, and Symbols
- 30 Gift Ideas Making Christmas More Meaningful
- 7 Meaningful Christmas Reminders