Eating Healthy During the Holidays

Eating healthy can be difficult any time of year, but it is especially difficult around the holidays. The reason being is there are unhealthy traditions surrounding food that are so ingrained into society, it is hard to escape. 

Comfort food is a great example. When I think of comfort meals, I tend to think of meals more on the unhealthy side, eaten during cooler weather. I’m sure most people tend to think more along those lines.

One of my best friends and registered dietician, Brittany Feuring, has been kind enough to offer some tips on eating healthy during this holiday season:

  • It is okay to enjoy family-favorite recipes and traditions, but keep moderation in mind. – You can practice moderation by keeping higher-calorie meals (like Thanksgiving and Christmas) to just one meal a day and choose healthier options for leftovers (turkey meat, veggies, whole grains) if you choose to keep leftovers. Eat your standard type of meal for the remaining meals each day.
  • Avoid “snacking” on holiday chocolates, cookies, cakes, etc. Keep snacks consistent throughout the year. A small treat will do the trick.
  • Colder weather makes us hungrier in general- do not ignore your hunger, but choose a healthy way to stay nourished! Make half of your plate a combo of fruits and veggies, choose whole grain and lean proteins. Try to pace yourself, it takes your brain 20 minutes to register it is getting full. This is a good time to mention staying active will also help with keeping hunger and fullness cues accurate.
  • Try something new! One thing I love during the holiday season is to try new recipes! Try a plant-based recipe! Baked apples, roasted root veggies, hearty bean chile, etc. Fiber will keep you fuller, longer. An added bonus is winter veggies have a different variety of vitamins and minerals than veggies from other seasons. Vitamin A is one of my favorites and can be found in anything orange or yellow- pumpkin, yam, acorn squash.
  • Hydrate calorie-free. This is a big one. I love pumpkin spice lattes, egg nog, and warm apple cider as much as the next person, but keep most of your beverages calorie-free- water, flavored waters, plain tea.
  • If they are interested, invite your friends or spouse to try these tips with you! It’s easier to choose healthier habits when the people around you are making similar choices. 

As far as movement goes, I suggest doing a little yoga for digestion to help with bloating after a heavy holiday meal. This can also be done prior to the meal as well.

  • Here’s a short yoga sequence for digestion:
  • Begin in simple seated form, take a moment to notice your breath and how your body feels in this moment. Align the head over the heart, the heart over the pelvis.
  • Seated Twist: After a few moments, swing the right fingertips behind you, left hand comes to the right knee for a gentle seated twist. Allow the breath to move you into the form rather than cranking into it. Keep the chest lifted. come back to the center. Now to the other side.
  • Left fingertips reach back behind you, the right hand comes to the left knee for a gentle twist in the other direction. keeping the heart lifted. Return back to your center.
  • Seated Cat-Cow: place palms on knees, inhale gently arching the back, loop the shoulders, lift the heart; exhale gently round the back, chin to chest. Repeat as desired.
  • Knees to Chest: Plant the soles of the feet and come to lie flat on your back. Once there, lift the feet bringing knees to chest, hugging the knees. Stay here for a few breaths.
  • Reclined Twist: Once you’re finished there, gently and with control drop your knees to one side, bringing your arms into a cross position, turning your head to the opposite side of your knees. Breathe. Now, back to center. Repeat on the other side.
  • Come back to your center. Extend your legs out long for Resting Angel or Corpse Pose. Here, feel free to rub your belly, post-meal. or just meditate on what you’re grateful for this holiday season.

Just because it is the holiday season, you do not have to feel bloated and groggy from over-indulgence and unhealthy food. You can eat a little healthier and still be able to enjoy time with family and friends this holiday season.

This article was written by Jessica Bryant of Christian Yoga Magazine, with help from a registered dietician, Brittany Feuring RD.

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