5 Healthy Eating Habits for the Holidays

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Cutting board surrounded by fruit

The holiday season is already upon us, whether we like it or not! Soon, huge plates of delicious foods will be passed around tables around the globe as family and friends gather to celebrate. Even the most disciplined dieter finds themselves slipping up a few times during the holidays, and that’s OK! As long as you have a plan in place to handle consumption of food and drinks during the countless holiday functions you may attend, your diet and health won’t have to suffer and leave you looking like Santa. Here are a few great tips from the JAG-ONE Physical Therapy family to help you navigate those buffets, open bars, and dessert spreads!

Take Charge in the Kitchen

Foods served around the holidays aren’t exactly designed with a calorie count kept in mind. Once slice of cheesecake and a hand full of cookies could easily send you way over your targeted daily caloric intake. If the possibility presents itself, volunteer to bring your own dishes to events or gatherings. Once you have culinary control over what you’ll be serving at an event, you’ll be able to cut out the little things in holiday dishes that pack on extra calories but do little else for the dish. Removing items like nuts, cheeses, gravy, butter, and whipped cream can shave back significant amounts of calories, and will still leave party-goers feeling satisfied.

Trick Your Mind

Many times, being in the presence of holiday foods that you’ve loved for years and years can cause a person to abandon their diet without much thought. We’ve found 2 great tricks to use at your next holiday party that will keep overeating to a minimum. Break out some snug, slim-fitting attire to wear to the gathering. You’ll be busy holding your stomach in to ensure you look great in that shirt, and overeating won’t even be a thought. Another great tactic is to keep a drink in your dominant hand throughout the event, so it won’t be as easy to grab food or desserts as you pass by the buffet or dessert table.

Be a Picky Eater

Just because the party that you’re attending will have seven different fishes, six different cheeses, and five golden strawberry shortcakes (you get where we’re going with this), doesn’t mean that you have to eat every single one of the offerings on the table. Everyone has their holiday favorites, so go ahead and grab something that you’ll only enjoy during this time of the year, and skip out on other dishes that you could have anytime. Take time to slowly indulge in the meal you have, and don’t rush to throw down a plate to run up to get seconds. Allowing your body time to digest properly will leave you feeling full before you can make it back up for another round at the buffet.

Cut the Booze in Half

It’s no secret that alcohol contains tons of empty calories, especially the holiday favorite, eggnog. When at a holiday event, a great way to cut back on alcoholic drinks is to alternate your beverage of choice back and forth between the alcoholic version, then a non-alcoholic drink, like water or seltzer. You’ll still have a drink in your hand, plus it could prevent any holiday party mishaps that are caused by a bit of overindulgence at the open bar.

Add Some Activity

Holiday parties are fun times for everyone to gather and unwind after a long year. Sure the food and drinks take the spotlight of gatherings, but why not add in some new activities that will get family and friends up and moving following a huge meal. Getting everyone outside to enjoy the snow is a great way to burn off calories after dinner, and even if it’s too cold outside, an impromptu dance party or charades game can have everyone up and moving around.

This holiday season, there are plenty of ways to stick to your diet and still enjoy the finer things that the holidays have to offer. A strong mindset is essential to ensuring that you are still caring for your body throughout the weeks of holiday gatherings. Treat your appetite like you treat your bank account, and budget out how much you can afford to “spend” on appetizers, drinks, entrees, and desserts. It’s always OK to enjoy your favorites, but just remember to do it in a sensible portion size. The JAG-ONE Physical Therapy family wishes all of our patients, families, and friends a safe and happy holiday season!