Healthy Eating During the Holidays

Thanksgiving table with food
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By Megan Ng

The holidays can bring many stressors! Don’t let eating and enjoying meals with your family be one of them. Eating healthy and celebrating the holidays don’t have to be mutually exclusive. After all, one of the best parts about holiday celebrations is the food!

Options, Options, Options!

Before grabbing a plate, look at all the options available. You may be tempted to grab a little bit of everything, but take a few moments to ask yourself: what intrigues you? What have you tried before? Grab a mental plate and note some foods that you would like to have and how much. Mapping out your plate and going in with an outline of a plan will help better guide your food choices and prevents overwhelming and overloading your plate and your mind (GraceMed, 2020).

Avoid Overeating

Make sure that you are still eating breakfast, lunch, and any other snacks that are in your daily routine. Skipping meals or eating significantly reduced portions early in the day to “save up” for a big meal can lead to overeating and grazing of snack foods (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, n.d.). Filling up on some fibrous fruits and vegetables can help take the edge off your appetite. Prioritizing fruits and vegetables can also help you portion out the rest of your plate accordingly. Additionally, it can take a few minutes for our brains to recognize that we are full. Eat slowly and take a ten-minute break after your first plate before deciding to go back for seconds. Remember: you want to be satisfied, not stuffed (Dorfner, 2015).

Be a Busy Body

Prevent the food coma and lethargy by getting in some activity after your meal. Socialize with family and friends away from areas with food to decrease mindless eating and fixation on food (Skerrett, 2019). Moreover, increase the amount of time spent standing rather than sitting. Suggesting a post-meal walk or dancing can be beneficial to continue family bonding while aiding digestion. Incorporating some type of movement to break up your meal can leave you feeling less bloated, more energetic, and lessens the focus on food and weight.

Summary

Although there is certainly no need to deprive yourself this holiday season, exercising some mindfulness will allow for some flexibility and peace of mind when approaching tables of indulgent dishes. If you do overindulge, remember that this is only one day out of many. Take time to care for yourself and get back on track the next day!

References
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). 5 Healthy Eating Tips for the Holidays. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved 24 October 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/library/features/holidays-healthy-eating.html.
  2. Dorfner, M. (2015). 10 Healthy Holiday Nutrition Tips. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved 24 October 2021, from https://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/10-healthy-holiday-nutrition-tips/.
  3. GraceMed. (2020). Eating Healthy During the Holidays. GraceMed. Retrieved 24 October 2021, from https://gracemed.org/healthy-holiday-eating.
  4. Skerrett, P. (2019). 12 tips for holiday eating – Harvard Health. Harvard Health. Retrieved 24 October 2021, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/12-tips-for-holiday-eating-201212242506.

Megan Ng is an Undergraduate Student of Food Science and Human Nutrition at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign