Make your next holiday get-together one that’s centered around the delicious food and traditions shared with loved ones.
The holidays are a magical time of year, full of abundance. Longer to-go lists, gifts to give, more social events to attend, and full of traditions with family and friends.
Most of the time holiday parties and traditions are centered around food.
A meal typically brings us together and is filled with an abundance of food and dishes that we don’t normally eat on a daily basis. Understandably so, this can easily cause overeating, putting our health goals on the backburner, or even trigger emotions of unease or anxiety.
But the truth is holiday parties don’t have to bring up anxiety or bring about overindulgence.
While the party may be full of food that you do not eat daily, the beauty is just that – you don’t eat them daily. Holiday parties can be completely manageable and enjoyable without leaving you feeling anxious, deprived, guilty or overly full.
Here are a few tips to take with you to your next holiday party (or any party!) so that you can feel confident and truly enjoy the food and people around you.
1. DON’T SKIP MEALS PRIOR TO THE PARTY
This is one of the worst things you can do the day of a party or holiday. In theory, you may think that not eating prior to the party allows you to “save up” calories. But the reality is that the restriction mentality leads to binging. Not giving your body the proper fuel slows down your metabolism, and essentially leaves you feeling lethargic and overly hungry. This in turn just sets you up for losing touch with your hunger cues, which will cause you to easily overeat and a more drastic spike in blood sugar.
Start your day and nourish your body as you normally would with a balanced breakfast full of protein, healthy fats and fiber. Eat a snack (or lunch!) to hold you over if your meal is at an in-between time, like 2-3pm. Try a snack combo of protein and healthy fats to keep you satisfied and stabilize your blood sugar.
2. GO IN WITH A PLAN
Going in with a plan can help reduce anxiety, and allows you to feel confident about your food choices so you can stop stressing and enjoy your time with friends and family. This is especially helpful if you’re attending multiple parties in one day!
First, visualize an idea of what your meal will look like before you decide what to eat will help you be able to make a decision when it’s time to make your plate. Even if you don’t know exactly what foods are going to be served it’s helpful to visualize a balanced plate and reasonable portion sizes. Once you’re at the party, scan your options before digging in to help you make the best choices instead of loading up on everything as you go.
3. EAT (AND DRINK!) MINDFULLY
Being mindful is key, but can be difficult since we often are hyper-focused on engaging with others or what’s going on around us. Before we know it, the food on our plate is gone. Tuning into what you truly want, the actual eating process, and how you are feeling with every bite is going to be key to eating without overdoing it.
Yes, it’s easier said than done. BUT making this a practice and consciously making the effort during your holiday meal will make it less likely to overindulge and allow you to truly enjoy what you are eating. Focus on your food, and chew every bite slowly. Put down your fork in between bites to savor the taste. This allows you to notice your satiety and truly enjoy your food.
4. REMEMBER, IT’S JUST ONE MEAL.
One meal (or day) of extra indulgence isn’t going to offset what you do every other day of the year. Tomorrow is a new day, so if you do overdo it a little bit, this is a loving reminder that it’s okay.
Tomorrow is a new chance to nourish your body with foods that make you feel your best. Feeling guilty and stressing over what you ate is far worse for you, both physically and mentally, than eating the stuffing or that extra slice of pie could ever be.
The holidays are truly is a special time of year, and should be enjoyed to the fullest.
For more holiday party eating tips, head to the original article.
HEADER IMAGE: KELLY SIKKEMA
Jessica Kelley, MS, RD is a Registered Dietitian based in St. Louis, MO. She promotes a healthy lifestyle that focuses on wholesome, natural ingredients to fuel our everyday lives to lay the foundation for balance without obsessing over numbers or fad diets. Read more from Jessica at Nourished by Nutrition.