Beat the Bulge – Tips for Healthy Holiday Eating

Holiday times bring us large family get together and indulgent meals. Holidays bring the opportunities to catch up on memories and make new ones, along with cherished comfort foods and treasured family recipes.  For someone who is trying to adapt to a healthy lifestyle and clean eating, the holidays can be a stressful time knowing that calorie dense foods will be served, the gyms will be closed or have reduced hours due to the holidays, and personal stress levels will be increased due to family relations and gift exchanges. Proper planning for the upcoming holidays can help you beat the bulge and stay on track with your healthy eating goals.  Here are some tips for healthy holiday eating:

  1. Keep a food journal. You don’t need a licensed dietician to tell you to track your daily calorie intake. This is often the first step for anyone wanting to make changing in their dietary habits.  Keeping a food journal can help you learn nutrition and learn about personal eating habits so that you know what areas can be changed in a realistic and functional way.  When you decide to start a food journal, write down everything you eat and drink for the first week.  Do not make any changes yet.  The first week’s data will give you an overview of what your normal weekly intake is like. You might surprise yourself at how much little things add up! After you have your first week’s food journal filled out, you can then do an analysis on that and see what changes you can make that will support your personal goal.  If you have a lot of food allergies or sensitivities, a licensed dietician nutritionist can help suggest dietary substitutes that are healthy alternatives that are in compliance with your health needs.  Food journals are helpful during the holiday season because they hold individuals accountable for what they eat.  If you don’t want to write it down, you probably shouldn’t be eating it!
  2. Offer to host a smaller get together or activity that brings the family together without the heavy meals. If your family likes to bond over food, you can decline the big dinner and offer to host a light breakfast the day of or have family come to you afterwards for fruit and coffee.  It still provides the opportunity to meet with family and bond over food, but removes you from temptation of overindulging with calorie dense foods at the big dinner table.  A family activity could also be a way to avoid overeating and still enjoy family.  Host a holiday hike for the family!  Skip the busy shopping malls and cookie exchanges and explore a new trail with your family.  Outdoor activities burn calories, boost your metabolism, and can improve mood as well.
  3. Hire a food and nutrition coach for the holidays. Share your dietary concerns with your nutrition coach and strategize the holidays before they arrive. Many diet coaches personal programs are posted online during the holidays to help clients overcome the holiday stressors and to get a jump start on their New Year’s Resolution of getting their healthy eating plans back under control. Coaches that have both a degree in fitness and nutrition can help you add fitness into your holiday planning so that you’ll be eating well and building personal fitness to help beat the holiday bulge.  A health wellness coaching program may also be available at city recreation centers that help with general diet and nutrition concerns and is often more affordable than a personal trainer.
  4. Take a nutritionist training course! When we learn more about nutrition and why nutrition is important for our health, we learn ways that we can incorporate it into our everyday dietary decisions. You will have the opportunity to learn about different types of eating plans and the pros and cons of each. Learning about fad diets and how unhealthy they are can help prevent us from making poor choices that may harm our bodies.  Nutritionist training programs help us learn new dietary habits that are best for us and that will help us reach our personal health goals.

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