The holiday season is many people’s favorite time of the year, and between spending time with family, exchanging gifts, making memories, and eating delicious food, it’s not hard to see why. However, the holidays can also be daunting for people trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle. We’ve put together a few healthy holiday eating tips to get you through this Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and New Year’s with ease.
Enjoy A Healthy, Homemade Meal
Canned, processed, and pre-made foods are often full of salt, sugar, and unhealthy ingredients that can be avoided by making your food from scratch. By giving yourself the ability to choose what goes into your food, you can use healthy alternatives to make your dishes lower-calorie, more nutritious, and still delicious. For example, if you like to make gingerbread as a holiday treat, try using almond butter and applesauce instead of butter, and add in some whole wheat flour, too!
There are some delicious ways to add vegetables to your holiday meals, too. Potatoes are a holiday classic, and these starchy vegetables can be served up mashed, baked, or smashed. Mashed cauliflower can also make a great mashed potato substitute! You can also roast your other favorite vegetables like broccoli, carrots, mushrooms, squash, zucchini, radishes, red onions, brussels sprouts for a nutritious side dish.
Enjoy Your Time Together
Having better control over what you and your family are putting in your bodies isn’t the only benefit of cooking at home. When we cook with the people around us, whether that be friends or family, we deepen our bonds and create better memories. Cooking gives a group of people the opportunity to all be in one place, working together towards a common goal. Plus, because cooking is so full of so many jobs, like learning, washing, cutting, chopping, and prepping food, it ensures that everyone can be involved without getting bored (or overwhelmed!) and turning to their phones, instead.
If you have kids in your family, cooking together can be especially beneficial. On top of strengthening your relationship and forming great memories, this is also an opportunity for children to learn basic cooking skills. Depending on their age, they can help with any jobs that require measuring cups, or maybe learn how to crack an egg, or they can simply wash all the delicious veggies you’ll have for your meal. If they’re a bit older, maybe you can show them how to safely chop the vegetables, as well. Either way, by including them in preparing your meals this holiday, you can help your children develop fine motor skills, learn important cooking skills they’ll need later in life, and perhaps most importantly, they’ll likely be more interested in eating food they’ve helped to prepare.
Take it Slow
Once the meal is prepared and everyone is sitting down to eat, remember to take it slow. Not only do you deserve to relax after all the hard work you’ve done to prepare for the holiday, but eating slowly can also help you prevent yourself from overeating and gaining weight. How much we want to eat and how much we end up eating is directly related to the hormones in our bodies, and these hormones don’t always act as quickly as we do.
After a meal, our bodies suppress the hormones that make us feel hungry and release hormones that make us feel full. However, by eating quickly, we don’t give our bodies enough time to make this transition and alert our brain that we’ve eaten enough, a process that takes about 20 minutes. By slowing down, we give that process enough time to take place, and we end up feeling fuller on less food, decreasing our calorie intake.
Walk It Off
After your meal is finished, try going for a walk. Movement can help the body with digestion by stimulating the stomach and intestines, allowing food to pass through more easily. Moreover, studies show(opens in a new tab) that walking after eating can help prevent heartburn, constipation, and symptoms connected to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), as well as peptic ulcers, diverticular disease, and colorectal cancer. On top of that, a post-meal walk can help with blood sugar levels, reduce the risk of heart disease, and yes, it can help you lose weight, too.
But this health tip for the holidays isn’t just about walking off calories—a short walk after your meal can benefit many different aspects of your health, including your mental health. A post-meal walk can offer some much-needed alone-time this holiday season, giving you a chance to relieve any stress and lower your blood pressure.
If you need help staying on track this holiday season, check out our health and wellness coaching at Performance UNLIMITED. Our hands-on, individualized approach to health and wellness can help bring your body and mind into balance. Schedule an appointment online today to get started!