Fad diets are a big thing around the holidays. Beginning around Thanksgiving time, I often hear my peers talking about their intentions of “cutting calories” or “making up for” indulging on their favorite foods.
These ways of thinking about food often make people feel really guilty about food, and more often than not result in a feeling of failure. These mindsets can create a downward spiral for both your confidence and overall mental health.
When did we develop such a negative relationship with food that we think this way? The fact is, you don’t have to diet to live a healthy lifestyle. In fact, you don’t have to really restrain yourself much at all.
How, you ask? Especially during the holidays, it isn’t easy to put your health first. Here are some things I like to keep in mind for getting through these food-focused holidays. By practicing these habits, I stay healthy (and sane) through the season and don’t encourage any of that unnecessary food guilt and negativity.
1. Sweat it out.
That doesn’t mean you need to go “work off” food you ate or equate eating more with needing to exercise. This tip is here for a better, more legitimate purpose.
Exercising helps produce endorphins (the feel good hormones). Working up a sweat in the morning will help you go into your holiday events in a positive mindset before it even starts.
2. Don’t skip meals.
Skimping on food earlier in the day will result in feeling starving by the time you get to eating later. This can potentially lead to overeating, and isn’t good for your metabolism overall.
Definitely eat a hearty breakfast (yes, even if you’re potentially eating a big dinner later) like these overnight oats, snack on nutritious foods like fruits and vegetables throughout the day, and even eat lunch before getting ready for the party. You want to keep your hunger cues feeling normal and balanced, and when you do get to that meal later, you probably won’t feel the need to overdo it.
3. Drink water.
Indulging in foods you haven’t eaten all year, like my pumpkin pie toffee cheesecake, can sometimes upset your stomach. Staying hydrated will help your digestion move smoothly. Thirst is also often mistaken for hunger, so forgetting to drink water can cause you to mindlessly eat when you aren’t really hungry.
Make sure to drink up 8-10 glasses throughout the day.
4. Skip the alcohol.
Alcohol not only adds on empty calories, but is likely to result in more not-so-healthy snacking and over eating.
If you’re 21 and can’t resist the pressure from your friends, opt for wine or clear liquors with soda water. Alternate with a glass of water to keep hydrated.
5. Enjoy it!
The holidays are meant to be enjoyed with friends and family. I know I’ve been waiting all year to see my aunt from Oregon and eat my mom’s AMAZING stuffing.
Start with a salad if it’s on the menu, load up your plate with vegetable sides first, and eat your food at a slow pace. Enjoy every last bite. And when you’re done chatting and eating well and mindfully, you won’t be too full for the best part: dessert!
We definitely put too much pressure on ourselves to stay on track during the holiday season. Ditch the food guilt. Don’t feel badly for eating that extra sugar cookie grandma made, or for grabbing a second helping of your favorite holiday dish. Food was meant to be enjoyed, and you shouldn’t feel the need to beat yourself up for how you spend this special time of year.
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