Prepare for the holiday season with thoughtful food planning

The season of overeating and over-indulging is upon us. The holidays are wonderful for the soul, but less so for our year-long, well managed health and food routines. We get invited to family gatherings where its not always easy to involve ourselves in what goes on the table. I’ve collected a few tips and tricks to prepare for the celebrations and to help you avoid senseless eating.

A few simple and easy rules to keep in mind:

1. First of all, don’t feel guilty about eating

…other than grated fresh vegetables and lean fish. Celebrations are important for our emotional well-being and it is good to connect with family and friends over a good meal. Grandma’s cooking might no be based on the latest health researches, but how wonderful it feels for the soul.

2. Never go hungry

…to any food related gatherings. Eat a healthy snack or even a proper meal before you leave the house. Feeling full will help you to manage your portions;  and you will probably eat only what you need, instead of what you want. You will also be less likely to gobble up unhealthy dishes out of hunger.

3. Bring a dish

It is not only a polite way to show respect to your host, but also a smart way to sneak in something that you approve. Of course you can’t just eat what you brought, (that would make you a rather impolite guest), but there is no harm in eating some of it, and mixing up your food options.

4. Eat slowly

This connects to feeling hungry as well. If you are not starving, you have more patience to choose your food and chew your bites. Don’t forget, our brain needs approximately 15-20 to feel that our stomach is full. If you power through plates of food in this time, it is likely you will regret it later.

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5. Start with proteins

When you are putting food on your plate, always start with the proteins, and leave carbohydrates last. Proteins will not only help you to feel full, but also kickstarts your digestion.

6. Avoid sugar

If you can’t, slice smaller pieces of that cake and choose something you will really (really) enjoy. Again, don’t feel guilty for eating that piece of minced pie, but try to reduce the size. In case you want to avoid eating dessert or any heavy dishes all together, you can always tell the host that you will save it for later. What you do with the packaged up food when you get home is up to you.

7. Drink wisely

There are a huge amount of hidden calories in mulled wine, eggnog and soft drinks. If you decide to drink other than water, stick to a glass of wine or make yourself easily a lemon/ fruit water. Keep a water glass at hand all day, and quench your thirst with water. If you drink plenty of water, other beverages will go down slower.

8. Don’t be a couch potato

Socializing is great, but don’t reserve the most comfy armchair for yourself for the whole day. Offer to help with setting the table, serving and cleaning away the meal. Walk the dogs after lunch, they will love you for it just as much as the kids, if you play with them. Stay active during the day and by moving, you also help your body to process the food easier and faster.

9. Avoid overeating by picking your food carefully

Don’t just pile anything and everything on your plate to try, but rather look through what is available. Consider what are the dishes that resemble most to your daily diet.

10. Give yourself a break for the day

If you grumble and worry about everything you eat during a celebratory lunch or dinner, you make others uncomfortable too. Instead of stressing out, just simply plan to eat something you really enjoy. Embrace the holidays and allow yourself a small treat too. If you loose track and end up overeating more than just a small treat, that is also OK. Don’t beat yourself up for one day of bad eating. Start fresh again tomorrow and get back to your usual, healthy routine.

11. Detox the next day

If you over-indulged the day before, try to give a break to your digestive system the next day. Drink at least 3 liters of water, eat light salads and avoid carbohydrates (especially refined carbs), salt, or sodium-rich, and heavy foods altogether. Don’t skip your meals, just eat lighter.

12. Host the party

If you are the host, prepare healthy dishes and let your grandma and mom bring a few traditional ones too. That way you offer something for everyone without compromising eating habits.

 

I hope these tips and tricks will help you to stay on track with your holiday eating and avoid overeating. We can help with advice on getting started with healthy food choices. If you want to get started with your new food (and exercise) routine after (or even before) the holidays, don’t be shy, reach out to me. I would love to help you!

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