Aryn DeGrave

DeGrave

The holiday season is here and with the rush of family gatherings comes non-stop opportunities to fill up on all the holiday foods. While most people give up diets during the holidays, Hy-Vee dietitians believe it is the most important time of year to focus on health.

Focusing on mindfulness during the holidays can help create an environment where food is the friend instead of the foe and banish guilty feelings for good.

While it may feel impossible to enjoy holiday gatherings without the guilt, it is possible! To prevent overeating (and ultimately those guilty feelings), make it a goal to eat when truly hungry and stop when comfortably full. Appreciate the foods you’re eating by focusing on texture, flavor and aromas. Consider eating more slowly and conversing with those around you instead of quickly finishing your plate.

Aside from the few days of family gatherings, plan to stick to your routine during the holiday months as much as possible. Focus on eating healthfully and exercising and remember to drink plenty of water throughout the day. Sticking to a healthy routine can help combat holiday stress and cravings by maintaining balanced blood sugars and a steady metabolism.

Make sure all holiday foods have a place on your plate. Restriction of any kind ultimately leads to binging and feelings of guilt.

The holiday season is full of foods that are only available this time of year – so enjoy them! Allow yourself to indulge in portions of your holiday favorites, and remember one meal will not derail your health goals.

If overeating at holiday meals is the source of your food guilt, practice doing the following to help combat this behavior and the uncomfortable side effects:

Don’t skip meals. Eating breakfast (and even lunch or snacks) the day of your holiday gathering helps keep blood sugar levels stable and your metabolism running, which can help reduce cravings and keep your meal portions at a healthier size for the holiday meal.

Focus on filling foods. Fiber in fruits and vegetables helps provide a filling, lower-calorie portion. Make sure to include at least a 3-ounce serving of protein (Hello, turkey!) at your meal and look for protein options like nuts and cheese for appetizers to help provide a feeling of satiety and avoid grazing throughout the day.

Pay close attention to portion sizes. Serving yourself larger portions than normal can encourage you to eat more, even if you would have been satisfied with a smaller amount. In general, a well-portioned plate would consist of 3 ounces of protein, such as turkey, ½ cup of mashed potatoes, ¼ cup of gravy, ½ cup of stuffing, ½ cup of green bean casserole and ¼ cup of cranberry sauce. For dessert, pick one slice of pie about the size of a light bulb.

Move more and drink water. Maintaining adequate hydration may help you feel fuller and make it easier for your body to break down food after the meal. Followed all these tips but still accidently ate too much? After the big meal, plan a walk with family and friends. A short 15-minute walk will help burn extra calories and may improve digestion.

Looking for more ideas on how to stick with your health goals this holiday season? Don’t miss out on our Wellness Wednesdays classes! Tune in virtually for a live complimentary wellness session over your lunch hour with our Hy-Vee dietitians. Each week learn about hot trending nutrition topics and delicious foods and/or recipes to add to your routine.

To see upcoming topics and complete your registration, visit hy-vee.com/health/hy-vee-dietitians/default.aspx.

Aryn DeGrave, MS, RDN, CD, CLC is a Corporate Hy-Vee Dietitian based in Madison.

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