Tips on Healthy and Mindful Eating Behaviors During the Holiday Season
By Alex Cisneros, Southern Flow Yoga Instructor, Registered Dietitian Student at the University of Houston
The holidays can be a joyous time with wonderful and delicious foods. Heartwarming casseroles, fresh baked cookies and warm rolls are familiar holiday foods that make their presence on the dinner table. Nevertheless, the holidays can also be a time of stress for some individuals, especially regarding food.
In this post, Alex Cisneros, So Flow instructor and Human Nutrition student at the University of Houston, shares her insight on ways we can incorporate healthy eating behaviors during the holiday season. She also includes some nutritious ideas for holiday meals at your family gatherings. Check out our schedule to take a class with Alex and feel free to ask her about any and all nutrition questions you may have!
Allow yourself to eat normally before and after your holiday meal.
This first tip is very important with the prevalence of diet culture (negative system of beliefs that value weight/thinness over health and wellbeing) in our society. Refrain from waiting the entire day to eat your holiday meal or from eating at your normal times the next day! When we deprive ourselves from eating the entire day, it creates a deprivation cycle in our minds that makes us want the food even more. This results in potential binging or emotional eating.
Instead, eating the normal meals or snacks you eat before your holiday meal will keep you satisfied and in control of your hunger levels. Lastly, eating normally after your holiday meal is crucial to keeping healthy relationship with food. It’s okay to indulge and enjoy all the holiday foods, however afterwards, resist any thoughts of guilt, regret, or need to reclaim your health. Accept the joy of consuming your favorite holiday foods and keep moving forward by staying active (maybe take a class at Southern Flow Yoga!) and eating a balanced diet.
If you are of drinking age and decide to enjoy libations during a holiday gathering, compliment your alcoholic beverage with water to stay hydrated. You should also make sure to drink plenty of fluids before you begin drinking!
Eat mindfully during your meal.
Notice how you are physically feeling while you are eating your holiday meals. Be mindful of when you start to feel satisfied and full. Being aware of your hunger levels while eating is an important aspect of mindfully eating. This allows us to pay attention to when we are ready to pause eating. According to the American Heart Association, another way to eat mindfully during the holidays is by taking small and slow bites during your meal to help avoid overeating.
It’s okay to have a fuller-than-normal plate of food during the holidays, especially when you are tasting new recipes from family and friends. However, do know that you can always pause eating and save food to take home for later! Another great tip is to just have foods on your plate that you really would like to savor and pass on the foods you don’t enjoy as much.
Have a variety of foods on your plate (including veggies)!
Feel free to taste a little bit of everything! A fun part of holiday feasts are the new meals you get to try for the first time. A healthy way to incorporate new recipes is by adding veggie and plant-based side dishes! With a typical holiday spread, we sometimes tend to shy away from vegetable dishes. But by adding some flare to your side dishes, you can make the nutritious options even more delightful.
Below are three different ideas to try out when making some plant-based side dishes:
1) Try oven-roasting veggies such as beets, brussels sprouts, asparagus and carrots with olive oil and seasonings.
2) Sauté your veggies such as spinach, bell peppers, broccoli and mushrooms with some chickpeas on the stove top.
3) Marinate some raw vegetables – such as kale, cucumbers, celery, bell peppers, tomatoes, beans of your choice, and quinoa – with mashed avocado, olive oil and seasonings to create a delicious and refreshing salad.
All in all, enjoy holiday eating and celebrations – just do it mindfully. Let us know what you think about the recipe ideas above. Got your own healthy options? Let us know in the comments below!
** Disclaimer: This blog post is not intended to replace medical advice. Please speak to your health care provider for any advice and questions you have regarding a medical condition. **