Tips for healthy eating during the holidays
How can we make sure to enjoy ourselves over the Christmas and New Year period without overdoing it? At Be Fit Food our dietitians have produced some quick tips to help you stay on track. The key to success is always to plan and prepare. We know how easily a cheat meal can spiral into a cheat day, week or even month! All the same principles apply during the Christmas and New Year period, we want to eat mindfully so we can stay on track with our health goals.
A couple of tips to help during this time include:
- Plan and prepare - what can we do instead of eating? Can we swap this activity for something else that may be more in line with your health goals? This could include going for a walk, playing sport, seeing a friend, cleaning, showering, playing with your pets etc.
- Keep a routine - make sure you continue to eat your main meals and avoid skipping meals. When we skip meals, we can often overeat at our next meal. We are also less likely to meet our daily nutrient targets if we skip meals. Your regular routine will vary from others, whether this is eating six small meals or three larger main meals per day. Find a healthy routine that fits in with your schedule!
- Mindful eating - this is an easy to learn skill to ensure that you have a positive relationship with food and that you are listening to your body and its needs. Mindful eating practices can help you to enjoy your food and identify when you may be non-hungry eating. A few basic things you can ask yourself before eating is “am I hungry or am I thirsty?” Then you can ask yourself how hungry you are and choose either a snack or a meal based on this. When you start to eat remind yourself to eat slowly and create a relaxed meal environment where you can pay attention to the food you are eating.
- Enjoy your meal - if you do not enjoy the food you eat then you will never feel satisfied! We want to ensure that you stop eating once you are no longer feeling hungry and wait at least 10-20 minutes before grabbing any second portions as that is how long it takes for your fullness cues to kick in.
- Limit your alcohol intake – alcohol can add calories and carbohydrates and provides us with little to no nutritional benefits. If you can opt for a non-alcoholic beverage such as a sparkling water, coffee, tea or diet soft drink. However, if you are at a social event and want an alcoholic beverage the better options are a spirit with soda water and lime, or a glass of red wine as supported by the Mediterranean diet.
As social beings, we often eat for a variety of reasons such as socialising and celebrations. During the Christmas and New year time many of us have family get togethers and events. A part of mindful eating is identifying times when we overeat and may choose less nutritious food options. Have you ever stopped and considered how often you involve your social interactions around food? It is important to still enjoy the social aspect of eating, but there are more sensible and healthier choices you can make. This allows you to continue your weight loss journey without taking two steps forward and one step back every time you go out for dinner or celebrate a birthday. At Be Fit Food we advocate living a low carbohydrate lifestyle. We recommend choosing lean protein options (lean red meat, chicken breast, grilled fish, tofu etc.) as well as salads with lots of leafy greens with dressings on the side. When eating out, you can ask the wait staff to swap chips for salad and low starch vegetables. You could use social eating as a place to practice eating in moderation. You don’t have to eat everything on your plate and can always ask to take the food home when eating out at a restaurant!