We know it can be tough to stay on track with healthy eating habits during the festive period so Laura Dixon, our resident Nutrition Coach has given us her top 5 tips to surviving the holidays:
1. Eat slowly to feel “satisfied” instead of “stuffed”
The most effective (and sanity-preserving) tool for holiday eating may also be the simplest one: eat slowly. (And stop at “satisfied”, instead of “stuffed”).
This strategy helps you avoid overeating for two main reasons:
It takes 15-20 min for your digestive system to let your brain know that you’re satisfied. Slowing down a meal allows that to happen before you overeat.
When you slow down, “sense into”, and savour your food, you feel content with much less. This means you’ll eat less but enjoy what you’ve eaten more.
Indeed, when eating slowly (and stopping at “satisfied” instead of “stuffed”) you can try all the delicious foods on Grandma’s buffet without guilt or needing to “work it off later”.
2. Keep meals balanced with protein
Holiday meals are typically rich in carbs (which are NOT the enemy!) but low in protein.
However, it’s important to include some protein with every meal, as it promotes fullness and may be useful for weight maintenance.
In fact, eating protein with meals may automatically reduce calorie intake by reducing hunger and appetite.
Good sources of protein include meat, poultry, fish, and some plant foods like beans and quinoa.
3. Limit your dessert intake and liquid calories
This sounds like such a kill joy- but I'm not saying don't have any, just be aware
Dessert is everywhere during the holiday season. This often leads to excessive sugar consumption, a common cause of weight gain.
Instead of eating every treat in sight, just focus on your favourites and ditch the rest.
Another trick is to savour the desserts you do indulge in, simply taking the time to eat them slowly — which may leave you feeling more satisfied and less likely to overdo it.
During the holidays, alcohol, fizzy drinks and other calorie-rich beverages are prevalent.
These drinks can contribute a significant amount of sugar and empty calories to your diet, which can cause weight gain.
Additionally, alcohol consumption is often linked to increased appetite and is a risk factor for weight gain. If you’re trying to control your weight, it’s best to limit your intake of high-calorie beverages.
4. Use a smaller plate and have a buddy system
These celebrations don’t have to wreak havoc with your mind or waistline, just try eating from a smaller plate.
People tend to consume larger portions from big plates, which may lead to overeating. Thus, a smaller plate is an easy way to control portions.
What’s a buddy system?
Some of the clients I work with report success with their weight goals when they have a partner to pursue them with: gain, loss or maintenance are all weight goals!
Try to find a health buddy who has similar goals, as this person can keep you motivated and accountable over the holidays. Or if you have different goals and just need some support, perhaps ask your partner or a friend to help support you through all of the temptation (were over the big 25th now but there's still treats and plentiful food around!)
Reach out to friends, family, or fellow members to connect with someone who would make a good fit.
5. Get plenty of sleep! Zzzz
Sleep deprivation, which is quite common during the holidays, may cause weight gain.
This is because those who do not sleep enough tend to be hungrier, consume more calories, and exercise less. Sleep restriction can increase your hunger hormone levels, ultimately leading to high calorie intake.
Two hormones that help regulate hunger—ghrelin and leptin—are affected by sleep: Ghrelin stimulates appetite, while leptin decreases it. When the body is sleep-deprived, the level of ghrelin spikes, while the level of leptin falls, leading to an increase in hunger.
Additionally, inadequate sleep has been linked to lower metabolism. This may be caused by alterations in your circadian rhythm — a biological clock that regulates many of your bodily functions.
So good news...Hit that snooze button, go for that afternoon nap, enjoy some time off with friends and family...even if it is virtually, and always count your blessings!