‘Tis the season!
From festive decorations, to joyful music and delicious food, its evident that the holiday season is upon us! This time of year brings me so much joy because Dustin and I’s family comes to town and we get to spend quality time together as a family. This is also the time I get to give my loved ones the holiday gifts I picked out just for them. (See my Holiday Gift Guide if you need gift inspiration for your family!). And while all that is amazing, one of my all-time FAVORITE parts of the holidays is all the delicious food! (Green bean casserole anyone?)
That said, with holiday food often comes the feeling of guilt for eating too much or eating something that isn’t necessarily the ‘healthiest’ for you. To help combat that feeling of guilt, I turned to my friend Rachel Paul (The College Nutritionist) to give us her healthy holiday eating tips! Her tips have helped give me a new perspective on healthy holiday eating, so I wanted to share it with all of you! She gives insight on portion control, which foods to eat and not eat, and ultimately how to enjoy the holidays without feeling guilty.
First things first: Meet Rachel
Hi everyone! It’s Rachel Paul from @CollegeNutritionist (250k+ followers) and CollegeNutritionist.com. I aim to help college students and young professionals look and feel amazing, by making meal prepping the easiest part of the week with practical and easy-to-follow guidance. I’ve also been fortunate to be featured in Business Insider, Buzzfeed, Daily Mail, Cosmopolitan, and Martha Stewart Weddings.
What’s The Biggest Holiday Eating Mistake, to Avoid?
“Last supper eating” and “Tomorrow logic”…
“Last supper eating” refers to when a person feels like they’re “going off” their diet and might as well finish everything in sight (even though they’re not hungry, and the food isn’t enjoyable anymore).
“Tomorrow logic” is related, and can be summarized in this type of thought: “Eh, I’ve already screwed up my diet for today, I’ll just start tomorrow (or next week or January first)”. Except, that “tomorrow logic” is a more frequent occurrence than actually following a plan!
How can we enjoy holiday parties, while still maintaining a healthy diet?
Pick what food(s) is/are going to be the most WORTH IT to you can be one of the most helpful tricks for holiday parties.
For example, if you look around at the appetizers and see that pigs in a blanket catch your eye more than the cheese board or the mini sliders, stick with a few pigs in a blanket. If you find however, that the pigs in a blanket are not as delicious as expected, put them down and try something else. It’s not necessary to finish something that isn’t delicious. First and foremost enjoy yourself and only eat what is truly worth it to you!
1. Never Arrive Hungry
The #1 rule is to not arrive too hungry. If we do arrive too hungry, we end up scarfing down everything in sight, and aren’t able to listen to our bodies and eat what we’re truly desiring (and then stop when we’re full!). Try some nuts, string cheese, or jerky before a party so you’re able to enjoy the atmosphere and be present.
2. Strategically Navigate The Buffet
First, survey the scene. Identify what really looks good to you. My general rule of thumb for weight management is to stick with one starchy food per day. Starchy foods include grains like bread, rice, pasta, and quinoa, but it also includes starchy vegetables like beans, peas, corn, and potatoes.
So survey the scene, and find the best looking options, ideally where one includes a starch. Otherwise, fill your plate with good veggies and protein. My second tip is to leave with one dessert – so there’s no option for seconds (or thirds or fourths!).
3. Know Your Ideal Plate Portioning
My “formula” for lunch & dinner is 2 cups of non-starchy vegetables + 1 serving of protein (e.g. one chicken breast, one burger patty, 2 eggs, etc.) + 100-200 calories of fats (½ avocado, ⅓ cup of cheese, etc.). With foods you’re not cooking yourself, you don’t have to worry too much about accounting for the fats as extra fat (oils, butter etc.) will typically be cooked in.
4. Bring a Healthy Approach to The Bar
With alcohol, I generally recommend sticking with alcohol without added sugar mixers – like juices and sodas. So, wine, prosecco or champagne, light beer, and hard alcohol + seltzer drinks are all good options. Also, alternate alcohol with seltzer, water, or club soda, and have the first drink of the night as seltzer to “set the tone” of the night (you can even add a slice of lemon or lime in that drink to make it look like alcohol if you’re self-conscious). This way, you can stay hydrated and have a better (and many times make healthier choices) next day! However, similar to what’s said above, if a holiday cocktail is something you really love, try to stick with one or two tops.
If you do drink a little too much (let’s be honest, it happens!) and you’re looking for something greasy, try some bacon & eggs versus the carb-laiden pancakes or fries. Also – hydrate! When you get home that night and throughout the next day.
How do we handle any post-holiday indulgence guilt?
There’s an incredible book called Intuitive Eating by Resch and Tribole that I refer clients to and refer to in my course. It does a much better job than I ever could trying to describe the principles myself, but in essence, if you truly listen to your body and incorporate health along the way, you actually won’t feel guilty and will be able to enjoy all parties, holidays, and social events.
Because, let’s be honest, this isn’t just a post-holiday issue, it’s an all-year-round issue! But here are some common cues to listen to your body and know when you are hungry vs. when you are full.
How do you recommend finding exercise motivation in the winter?
Make exercise something you LIKE to do – don’t go for a run if it doesn’t bring you joy, or don’t try to do yoga if you can’t stand slow-moving exercise. If you do love dancing your butt off, go full force.
Similar to choosing what foods to eat, try different types of exercise to find what makes your body feel the best and most energized.
The Healthy Holiday Eating Motto
This time of year is meant to be enjoyed with family and friends. I hope these tips help you enjoy the holidays that much more and don’t forget that…