The holidays are a time to loosen up, relax, and indulge. However, when you’re working to prioritise healthy eating, this can be a challenge. Smart holiday eating is always difficult, especially with an influx of social events. Luckily, there are many ways to enjoy time spent with family and friends while still sticking to healthy meals and snacks.
Holiday foods are a big tradition for many, so the idea of smart holiday eating feels irreconcilable with enjoying the festivities. Smart eating does not necessarily mean avoiding your favorites altogether. As long as you have an overall healthy lifestyle that incorporates regular physical activity, there’s no reason you can’t indulge in moderation.
Below, we’ll go over some smart eating tips to ensure you have a healthy holiday without missing out on the fun.
Eat Before You Go Out
Don’t skip meals, even if you’ll be indulging later. You’re more likely to binge on unhealthy snacks and comfort foods if you arrive at a party already hungry.
Eat smart before going out. The best pre-party meals are a combination of complex carbohydrates, protein, and unsaturated fats. You can also grab a quick snack like mashed avocado rolled up in a slice of turkey with sea salt and pepper or peanut butter smeared over sliced apples or in a celery stick.
Your instinct may be to avoid excess calories, causing behaviors like eating too little ahead of a big event. However, holidays often mean an excess of unhealthy, sugary snacks. Healthy options may be sparse at your cousin’s Christmas party or a drink with co-workers. If you fill up on quality food beforehand, it’ll be easier to resist overeating later. That really is one of my hottest tips when it comes to the silly season.
Indulge In Moderation
Again, smart holiday eating does not mean skipping out on everything you love over the holidays. Portion control is key. You’re more likely to break down and binge if you deprive yourself completely, so don’t feel guilty about treating yourself at get-togethers. Just be conscientious about the amount of food you’re consuming.
There are plenty of tricks to control your portions. First, opt for a smaller plate, limiting the amount of food you can pile on. Offer to split a piece of cake or cookie with a friend instead of eating the whole thing.
Take small portions from buffet tables, sticking to only one large spoonful of your favorite dishes. Allow your eyes to light up over the veggies sticks with avocado and hummus and then finish off with some cheeses, which are also low carb (and much deserved after avoiding dairy during your 14 Day Smart Cleanse).
Another way to work on indulging in moderation is eating slower. You’re less likely to go back for seconds if you make what you have last. Have a mineral water or water close by too and sip that during your glasses of booze and nibbles.
Be Careful About Alcohol Consumption
Alcoholic beverages are common at holiday events, but beer, hard cider, and custom cocktails are high in calories and often sugar as well. Obviously, the best lifestyle eating choice would be to forgo the alcohol altogether. However, if you do drink, do so in moderation. Water in between is key and you’ll intercept that imminent hang over too.
If you’re tempted by custom cocktails, stop at one. It’s also a good idea to go for slightly healthier alcoholic options whenever possible. While alcohol is never really healthy, choices like red wine and low carb beer tend to be lower in calories, carbs, and sugar. You can also opt for something like sparking water to feel festive without drinking. Add some lime, lemon, passionfruit, strawberries or ice to your water or mineral water. Or bring your own organic kombucha. The Remedy brand from Woolworths is a low carb, personal favourite of mine. I’m hooked.
Go For High Protein and Healthy Options
If you feel full, you’re less likely to overeat. When you hit up buffets at holiday parties, load up on protein. Diets high in protein increase satiety, meaning you feel more satisfied and are far less likely to overeat. It also keeps your blood sugar levels stable which keeps you in a state of fat burning as you are keeping your insulin levels low enough.
While cookies and chips are common at buffet tables, usually people offer healthier options as well. Fish or egg-based dishes can be a good way to get in healthy protein, as can sliced meats, bean salads, or bean-based dips. Mixed nuts, in moderation, are also filling and packed with healthy fats.
In addition to upping your protein intake, add sides of fresh fruits and veggies instead of options like chips. If you treat yourself to a healthy, balanced meal at a party, you’ll feel fuller faster and will be less likely to go overboard on less healthy options. Think protein, veggies and healthy dips full of good fats to manage your appetite!
Oftentimes, people mistake thirst for hunger. This leads to excess eating. Salty and sugary foods, even in moderation, can make you thirstier than usual. Be conscientious about staying hydrated throughout the holiday season.
In general, most people should aim to drink around 2 – 2.5L of purified water each day. Try drinking a glass of water with meals rather than other beverage options. When you’re out, carry a bottle of water with you and make sure to take sips regularly. My favourite waters are again from Wollies and they are the alkaline water brands with a high pH 7-9 to keep you more alkaline and less acidic.
Eating healthy all year round is important, which is why smart holiday eating matters. As fun as the holidays are, they can also be stressful. The food you eat does not just impact your health, but it can even have an effect on your mood. Maintaining a healthy diet can help you feel better, physically and emotionally.
You don’t have to give up everything you love over the holiday season. Moderation and portion control allow you to indulge without sacrificing your health. The holidays can still be as enjoyable as ever even while you maintain healthy eating habits overall.
And the best part is now that you have 14 Day Smart Cleanse as your secret wellness and weight loss tool for life, a little over-indulging and fun is completely doable this festive season!
Your Naturopath & Coach,