What does "normal" eating look like during the holidays?

The holidays are coming up just around the corner...can you believe it?! During this time of the year, with all the events and family gatherings, it is common to struggle to maintain balance and a healthy relationship with food. Practicing healthy habits and healthy eating does not mean giving up your holiday favorites! Here are our Registered Dietitian’s top five tips to go into the holidays with a sense of balance and healthy mindset!

One: Do not skip meals!

Skipping lunch to “save calories” because you are attending a holiday event with a lot of food offered later in the evening is not a healthy habit to develop. Not consuming enough calories throughout the day causes low blood sugar and hunger, which can then lead to cravings, poor food choices and eating past fullness. Not to mention when skipping meals becomes the norm, it can slow down metabolism-something nobody wants! It is hard to make healthy choices and control portion sizes when your stomach and mind are screaming for food! Aim to eat your normal meals and snacks during the day full of whole, nutrient dense foods.

Two: Add more vegetables!

Just because you are indulging in foods you may not normally eat, does not mean vegetable intake has to take a back seat. Having your favorite treats during the holidays does not eliminate the many nutritional benefits from eating vegetables. Aim to eat the rainbow, and less brown and white. Try setting a goal to have half your plate colorful from fruits and vegetables. There are plenty nutritious salad recipes with seasonal favorites that tastes great like butternut squash, leafy greens, dried fruit, walnuts and more. Stay tuned on our recipe page for a fall salad recipe!

Three: Prioritize your favorite treats

When arriving to a holiday meal, survey your options! Identify what the healthier options are and what colorful foods you are going to fill half of your plate with. From there, look at options for your favorite indulgences, whether that be your mom’s famous cookies or your aunt’s decadent stuffing.  This allows you to enjoy your favorite holiday foods without disregarding your healthy habits.

Four: Be mindful of portion sizes & slow down during meals

It takes about 20 minutes for blood glucose levels to rise once finished eating and if meals are eaten fast, it is likely you will not realize you are full before going overboard. It is important to eat mindfully instead of distracted, which is hard to do especially around the holidays! Try paying attention to the taste, the smell, the texture of the food and truly enjoy the experience. To be mindful of portion sizes does not mean a food scale and measuring utensils are required. Aim to have half your plate filled with color from fruits and veggies and dish up reasonable portions for the rest of your favorites- don't overthink it. If you feel hungry after letting the first helping digest, you can always get more!

Five: Do not shame yourself

Food is about more than numbers (calories, macronutrients, sugar content, etc.)- it is about sharing experiences with loved ones. A lot of the time, guilt and shame around food comes from restricting certain foods. Restriction is not the answer to building a healthy mentality and habits around food. That feeling of guilt steals that joy and experience that should come from holiday gatherings. Aim to be in the moment, and truly enjoy the food you are eating!

Experience Momentum’s Registered Dietitians wish you a happy and healthy holiday season! If you would like more support as you navigate the holiday food scene, stop by and see us at either our Lynnwood or Fremont locations. Insurance and cash-pay appointments are accepted.

Mackenzie Schiltz