How to Make Healthy Food Choices over the Holidays

December 3, 2018

When it comes to eating healthy, balance is key.

So how do you stay healthy during the holidays — a time of extravagant office parties, decadent family dinners, and multiple varieties of pie?

Making healthy choices during the season of excess can be a challenge. Happily, you can stick to your goals without swearing off butter tarts and eggnog entirely by practicing these tips for healthy holiday food choices:

Practice mindful eating.

Lately, the “mindful eating” trend has been catching on over restriction diets, and for good reason. With roots in Buddhist philosophy, mindful eating involves paying close attention to the flavor, texture, emotions, purpose, and origin story accompanying every single bite. Compared to the way we often tend to gobble down food on the go, mindful eating typically helps us eat less and enjoy food more.

So instead of denying yourself a slice of tourtière meat pie or Christmas cupcake, try focusing on enjoying it slowly, savoring the sensation of every bite. By staying present as you eat, you can help your body experience the pleasure of eating more intensely and receive the signal when you are full.

Don’t go hungry.

After you’ve overdone it on mashed potatoes or holiday cocktails the night before (or if you’re preparing for an indulgent night ahead), it can be tempting to skip meals in an attempt to undo the damage. But allowing yourself to go hungry compromises your self-control, putting you at greater risk for succumbing to unhealthy binging later on.

Rather than denying yourself, chow down on fibrous veggies and fruits during the day. These are low-calorie, high-nutrient foods that will keep you feeling satisfied. That way, when a plate of reindeer cookies is passed your way, you’ll be in a better position to indulge in moderation instead of feeling hungry enough to scarf down the whole batch.

Stay active.

Remaining physically active over the holidays is important not only for maintaining a trim waistline, but boosting energy and mood. It’s especially important to schedule physical activities around the holidays when it can be easy to fall into a cycle of eating big meals and vegging out on the couch. In between holiday meals, make an effort to go for a walk, build a snowman in the backyard, or attend a yoga session.

Cut down on stress.

Bogged down by lengthy shopping lists, end-of-the-year deadlines, and family gatherings, it’s easy to let stress get the better of us during the holidays. Holiday stress encourages emotional eating, or the practice of eating to relieve negative feelings rather than hunger. To stop stress eating in its tracks, start by getting plenty of sleep. Lack of sleep has been linked to weight gain and cravings for fats and carbs. During the hectic holiday season, make daily self-care a priority. Each day, set aside time for relaxing, non-food-related activities, such as taking a bubble bath, going for a walk, or just pausing to breathe and stretch.

Get support.

A powerful way to cut down on holiday stress while sticking to a healthy eating schedule is to hire a private chef. Once a luxury reserved for the very wealthy, hiring a personal chef is now an affordable alternative to ordering in, dining out, or relying on grocery delivery services. Delicious, chef-prepared meals can help you practice mindful eating since every meal is thoughtfully prepared and intentional.  Your chef can prepare healthy, satisfying meals, helping you reclaim cooking and shopping time, taking the stress out of meal planning, and ensuring you stay on track during the holidays.