Top tips to enjoy your favorite foods while still feeling good from a registered dietitian
The holidays can bring mixed emotions around food — excitement for some of your favorite dishes and stress that you’ll eat too much. With many food and drink filled celebrations, it can feel like 6 weeks of non-stop indulging. The holidays are a time to enjoy yourself, and it’s possible to do that without stress or a daily food hangover with the following tips.
- Start your day with a balanced breakfast. Starting your day with a balance of protein, fiber-rich carbs, and healthy fat helps you manage your blood sugar, which can reduce cravings and lessen the chance of over eating later in the day. Try avocado toast (whole grain) with an egg and a side of fruit or our BeBOLD PB&J Overnight oats.
- Keep easy meals on hand. If your holiday season is jam packed with events and responsibilities, set yourself up for success with quick throw together meal options. Take shortcuts where you need it such as using frozen fruits and veggies (or pre-cut fresh), bagged salads, or ready-to-eat proteins (beans, pre-cooked chicken, hard boiled eggs, and canned tuna are great options) to save time and energy in the kitchen. When you’re able to eat well balanced, nutrient-dense meals in between celebrating, you’ll feel more energized and less stressed.
- Don’t save up calories for the party. Skimping on food during the day to save up for the nighttime celebration almost always backfires. This is because you show up to the party ravenous, which makes it hard to make thoughtful choices. Instead, eat well-balanced meals throughout the day just like you would any other day of the year.
- Pick your favorites, leave the rest. Whether it’s the appetizer station at a holiday party, the constant dessert tray floating around the office, or food gifts that make their way into your home, it can be easy to mindlessly munch on foods you don’t even truly enjoy. Before grabbing another cookie, pause and ask yourself if you actually want it. If it’s something you really look forward to, enjoy it and then move on (don’t stress about it!). If you’re just eating it because it’s “there,” walk away and indulge in something that will truly satisfy your tastebuds.
- Remember, you can have (most of) these foods anytime. While certain foods only come around once a year, many holiday treats can actually be enjoyed anytime! When you shift your mindset to remind yourself that you’re actually allowed to eat dessert in January, those cookies lose some of their power and you’re able to enjoy one (or two) and move on instead of eating the whole tray.
In addition to these food tips, don’t forget to stay hydrated, prioritize quality sleep, and aim for some regular movement (walking counts!). These are the foundations of a healthy lifestyle and will set the stage for healthy choices and feeling great throughout the holiday season.
Sarah Gold Anzlovar, MS, RDN, LDN is a registered dietitian, certified intuitive eating counselor, and the owner of Sarah Gold Nutrition, a virtual private practice and nutrition communications consulting business in the suburbs of Boston. She empowers busy women to ditch diets and learn to eat to feel their best without the stress.