The holidays are often a time for indulging in favorite foods, but the short-term enjoyment can lead to long-term consequences. With so much temptation at every turn, it can be difficult to find the right balance. If you’re looking for ways to eat healthy this holiday season, consider these helpful tips.
The Challenges of Eating Healthy During the Holidays
Many holiday traditions tend to revolve around food. Whether it’s a family meal filled with favorite side dishes or a stocking stuffed with candy, there’s no shortage of opportunities to engage in not-so-healthy eating habits. Despite our best intentions, this time of year can be especially challenging. These are some of the top reasons that eating healthy during the holidays is more difficult than it seems.
- Food is readily available. Over the holidays, the kitchen is a central hub that brings us together. Large meals and sweet treats are hallmarks of the season, with friends and neighbors sharing plates of their signature dishes. With so much opportunity, it’s easy to overindulge without even noticing.
- Emotional attachments. Good or bad, eating is often tied to emotions. A plate of Christmas cookies might bring back treasured memories or offer an escape from daily stresses. Either way, food can trigger a chemical response in the brain that’s similar to the pleasurable effects of drugs and alcohol.
- A free pass. You might tell yourself the holidays are an exception to your normally healthy habits. Unfortunately, this free pass can end up extending well beyond the season. Though there’s nothing wrong with some thoughtful moderation, it can turn into a slippery slope that requires significant effort to get back on track.
5 Healthy Holiday Eating Tips
While it might seem like the deck is stacked against sticking to your healthy habits, you can recognize when things are taking a wrong turn with a little extra awareness. As you navigate the temptations of the holiday season, keep these five tips in mind to avoid overindulgence.
1. Don’t Go Hungry
With so many delicious food options to choose from, you might think it’s smart to bypass other meals to save up calories. Unfortunately, this strategy often backfires. It actually leads to overeating because you’re famished by the time you get to the party. Instead of showing up on an empty stomach, have a healthy snack to satiate you before you arrive. Small snacks like fruit, yogurt or nuts will help prevent an overwhelming appetite and lead to more responsible decisions.
2. Everything in Moderation
There’s no reason you can’t have it all, you just have to choose the right portions. When you want to try everything, start with small servings. That way you don’t end up with a piled-up plate that tempts you to finish every bite. Alternatively, plan out which seasonal dishes you enjoy the most and treat yourself to larger portions. Then, plan to pass on the other not-so-interesting options that are available all year long.
3. Trust Your Instincts
Intuitive eating is a popular way to make more healthy choices during the holiday season. Simply put, it means you listen to your body about food choices that make you feel full or satisfied. The focus is on what feels right, not what’s good or bad. If there are foods you know you’ll pay for down the road, trust your instincts and skip those, even if they’re tasty in the moment. Once you start to feel full, give yourself a 10-15 minute break before going back for another helping. It takes the brain time to catch up with the stomach.
4. Plan Healthy Options
Bringing a healthy dish you enjoy to holiday parties provides an easy safety net. You’re still able to treat yourself to something special, while adding balance to the overall meal. Along those same lines, don’t forget about the calories coming from beverages. Eggnog may contain up to 500 calories per cup, and beer and wine range between 150-225 calories per drink. If food is the focus, save those calories with a special seltzer water, sugar-free soda or plain old water.
5. Balance With Exercise
The holidays are a busy time, and it can be easy to fall out of your normal routines. However, you should always try to make time for a little exercise. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate, either. Taking a short walk with friends and family after a meal can help burn some of those extra calories and provide an opportunity to chat and catch up. In addition to working off calories, exercise can boost metabolism, improve mood, reduce stress and help you sleep better.
How The Stayton Promotes Healthy Eating
At The Stayton, healthy eating is essential to our focus on wellness. Our chef-led dining venues cultivate world-class menus that prioritize health and nutrition for older adults. We utilize fresh, locally sourced ingredients to create a wide variety of entrees that are appealing to every palate.
With food that’s made to order, residents can craft meals that meet their specific dietary needs and ensure those choices are helping to accomplish overall lifestyle goals. This sample menu gives you a small preview into what you can expect to enjoy on a daily basis.
As the premier luxury senior living community in Fort Worth, TX, The Stayton is dedicated to helping residents thrive. We help them create the lifestyle they want, and provide support every step of the way. If this sounds like the right fit for you or a loved one, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Our dedicated team is waiting to answer questions and show you what makes The Stayton so special.