The holiday season can be the most stressful time of year, especially if you’re in charge of hosting the annual family get-together. It’s hard not to get wrapped up in the endless ribbons and bows and sweet treats.
Whether you’re the host or an honored guest, these healthy holiday eating tips will help you conquer the temptations of the table.
Pregame Before the Parties
Between your parents, the in-laws, and your close friends, you’re bound to be invited to plenty of holiday parties this season. While you plan to enjoy yourself at each one, you should also do a few things before heading out.
Get Enough Sleep
No matter how often you work out, how healthy you may be, the amount of sleep you get each night can affect your metabolism over time. It’s important to get the sleep you need in order to help preserve a healthy metabolic rate, or the rate at which you process and digest your food.
Lack of sleep raises your body’s level of ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates your appetite. Studies have shown that a sleep-deprived brain is less able to resist junk food compared to a well-rested brain, so not getting enough sleep will make you hungrier and less able to resist the temptation of holiday treats.
Plan your day so that you can get at least seven to eight hours of sleep.
Don’t Starve Yourself
Many people think if they don’t eat anything before a holiday party, they can indulge at the dinner table guilt-free. But what they don’t realize is that avoiding food during the day can damage their bodies in the long run.
When your body enters starvation mode, it eats at your muscles before your body fat. This can cause fatigue, dizziness, and muscle deterioration.
You’re not going to make good decisions when you’re hungry. So don’t go into a holiday party ravenous because you haven’t eaten all day.
Eat a Small Breakfast
You can’t starve yourself. Consider whipping up an egg casserole that you can enjoy for breakfast throughout the week, with a whole wheat English muffin and fruit cup on the side. To get the protein and fiber you need, add these ingredients to your casserole:
- Whole eggs (not egg whites)
- Green peppers
Looking for a healthy breakfast dish? Check out this healthier hashbrown casserole recipe.
Mind Your Plate
A colorful plate is usually a healthy plate. Bright and colorful foods tend to be healthier choices than dull foods. If you’re munching before the feast, look for these healthier options often found at holiday parties:
- Mixed nuts
- Raw veggies
- Cheese and crackers (opt for whole wheat)
Snacking on these rather than the sugary pastries and cookies on decorative holiday dishes will help maintain your figure and keep you feeling fresh.
When enjoying the main meal, be selective about what goes on your plate. Choose foods you know you enjoy instead of those you could go without.
Contribute to the Buffet
Your hosts will be thrilled to have less foods to prepare. Volunteer to bring your favorite side or dessert using healthier ingredients like these:
- Whipped topping (NOT sugar-packed buttercream, chocolate, or peanut butter icing)
- Applesauce (substitute for butter, margarine, or vegetable oil)
- Fat-free or Greek yogurt
Whether you bring homemade fruit salad or a fancy dessert, making it with a healthy twist will show friends and family that eating healthy doesn’t have to be boring.
Catch up with Family and Friends
Socializing may or may not be your favorite part of the holiday party scene, but filling cousin Shelly in on the biking trip you took with your husband over the summer will keep your mind focused on an adventure to somewhere other than the buffet.
Stand a safe distance from the snack table when catching up with old friends, so you’ll be less inclined to sit and subconsciously munch for an hour before the main course. Stay out of reach of those chocolates, sugar cookies, and pastries!
Other Party Tips for Healthy Holiday Eating
Make the most of your meals without destroying the progress you’ve made this year. Master these healthy holiday eating tips to prevent instantly regretting your trip to the bathroom scale the next morning:
- Avoid stretchy pants to prevent yourself from overeating.
- Use a salad plate to help manage portion control.
- Take breaths between bites and join the dinner conversation.
- Take smaller bites to feel full sooner.
- Be the last to the buffet—food looks less tempting after it’s been picked through.
- Don’t fall victim to leftover pushers.
Need help making healthier choices this holiday? Contact the Cause and Effects Fitness team for more nutrition ideas to maintain a healthy mindset this season and in the year ahead.