By Minati O’Connell, Nutrition Intern, with the Mary’s Center Nutrition Team
During the holiday season, we look forward to festive gatherings with our friends, family, and certainly, lots of delicious food. Most of the calories we eat these days come from processed wheat, rice, corn, sugar, dairy, and animal products, especially this time of year.
Overeating holiday foods combined with lower levels of physical activity can make us forget the consequences of our food choices, but the Mary’s Center nutrition team recommends two strategies to stay on track: intuitive and mindful eating. Using these strategies can help you avoid the pendulum swing from binge eating to eating nothing at all.
Practice intuitive eating by:
- Listening to what your body is saying about what to eat and how much
- Paying attention to how the food feels physically and emotionally
Practice mindful eating by:
- Using all your senses
- Choosing foods that are nourishing and satisfying
- Becoming aware of foods you like and don’t like, without judgement
- Being aware of physical hunger cues versus emotional hunger cues
Learn more about mindful eating in this video from Mary’s Center Nutritionist Kathy McNeely:
Here are additional strategies to avoid overindulging during the holidays:
- When going to a party, try not to arrive hungry. Eat a healthy snack before you go, such as a handful of nuts and a piece of fruit.
- Fill half your plate with low-calorie, high-fiber options, such as vegetables and fruits.
- Look out for hidden calories in things like coffee shop lattes, juices, sugar-sweetened drinks, and alcohol.
- If hosting a party, prepare healthier versions of some holiday favorites. For example, replace white potatoes with sweet potatoes, use olive oil instead of butter, or make mashed potatoes with the skins.
- Don’t deprive yourself of foods you might enjoy. Try taking a small portion and eating very slowly, noticing the flavor and savoring each bite to reduce overeating.
Be sure to take time to be present with your family and friends and enjoy their company. If you feel stressed by too much family time or too much party time, make a point to add daily exercise and pace yourself so that emotional over-eating is not your only stress release strategy.