by Lena Rakijian, MS, RD, LDN
Ugly sweater parties and holiday work events are in full swing! You can enjoy all your holiday festivities AND practice mindful eating. Achieving both is possible with these simple holiday eating tips!
1. Start with a healthy breakfast
With travel and frequent social gatherings, our schedules become inconsistent. To maintain a level of consistency, start with a healthy breakfast. People who regularly eat breakfast are most successful at losing weight. Start your day with a high protein, complex carbohydrate breakfast. Choose plain greek yogurt, fresh berries and top with sliced almonds, and a 1/4 cup of granola. Or make a veggie omelette with 2 eggs, 1 egg white scrambled, tomato, onion, bell peppers, eat with 1 slice whole grain toast plus 1/4 avocado mashed & lemon pepper to taste.
2. Savor your holiday treats
Avoiding holiday sweets and treats all together is unrealistic. Completely banning sugary foods may lead to overeating by signaling the brain to release stress hormones. You may feel less motivated to eat nutritious foods if you are feeling stressed and thus are more likely to binge on unhealthy food. Choose your holiday treat wisely, take a small portion (no bigger than a deck of cards), eat slowly, and savor every bite!
3. Get 8 Hours of Sleep
There may be optimal sleeping hours at which body weight regulation is facilitated. With a hectic holiday schedule, getting a full 8 hours of sleep has its benefits. Studies show that skimping on sleep raises ghrelin, a hormone that suppresses your appetite, and lowers leptin, a hormone that suppresses your appetite. Less sleep may result in increased appetite and hunger levels throughout the next day. To avoid those next day food cravings, aim for 8 hours of sleep every night.
4. Practice mindful eating
Large portions of food may contribute to excess energy intake; however, data on effects of portion size on food intake in adults are limited. In some studies, eating slower has shown to lower energy intake in normal weight adults. Whether a smaller plate helps lower food intake is still up for debate. One way is to use a smaller plate or bowl. In one study, people who were given larger bowls served themselves 16 percent more food than people with smaller bowls, and also actually thought they were eating less than they were. Some studies say a smaller plate reduces energy intake, while others suggest it may not suppress food intake for certain individuals. Larger studies are needed to reach a conclusive standpoint on plate size and consumption. A standard plate size is 9 inches in diameter. Do your best to balance your plate with 50% vegetables, 25% starchy vegetables or whole grains, and 25% lean protein.
5. Make time to SWEAT!
Book your workouts for the week and hold yourself accountable by inviting a friend to workout with you! The holidays can be a fun time to do local holiday inspired road races and fitness events. Look up local fitness classes and events in your area and make your workout challenging and social!
6. Shake it off & get back on track
When it comes to healthy eating, there is no such thing as “perfect”. Maybe you went to a holiday party, overate, or skipped a workout...guess what? It’s OK. That’s life! Skip the part where you feel guilty, and instead use your energy to plan ahead the following day. Don’t give up and throw in the towel! Take a breath, shake it off, and get back on track. If you shift your perspective to the positive it makes getting back on track so much easier.