By: Dr. Stephanie Duffey
The holidays are always a time of year where we spend time with loved ones, bundle up, and of course indulge! We’ve all been at a family gathering where we’ve gone back for a third roll (or dessert), only to regret it later. Often this spirals into the unrealistic declaration that we’re “never touching carbs again.” And then we try…and fail…and the cycle repeats. Sound familiar?
I’ve been there too and my personal philosophy is not about restriction—it’s about balance. What if I told you, you could feel better about the choices you’re making and enjoy that slice of grandma’s famous apple pie? Here are a few of my tips for mindful eating, especially around the holiday season.
1. Focus on a nutrition plan, not a diet
Unless you have a food intolerance or allergy, try not to think about eliminating entire food groups. I hate to even use the word “diet,” because when I think of nutrition, I don’t like to think of cutting things out. A balanced plate is the best kind of plate.
2. Choose minimally processed foods
A great place to start is by reading nutrition labels, or choosing foods that don’t require a nutrition label. For packaged foods, the fewer ingredients, the better. Another tip is to look for ingredients you recognize. Try to avoid labels with overly complex ingredients like monosodium glutamate, sucralose, or other nearly indistinguishable words. Instead, stick to a wide variety of fruits and veggies, lean proteins, and foods as close to the ground as possible.
3. Keep a food journal
I know it sounds tedious but I can’t tell you how beneficial it is to physically track what you’re consuming. Journaling about what you’re putting into your body offers good insights to habits and holds you accountable. It also allows you to easily identify how you feel after eating certain foods. You may start to notice patterns. For example, eating sugar could make you feel lethargic or more prone to headaches. Maybe it will even force you to think twice before eating that sugar cookie.
4. Ensure you’re hydrating (with the right liquids)
Hydrating with the right liquids not only helps curb hunger, but it’s also essential in keeping everything running smoothly in your body. Try to stick to water and sparkling water rather than sugary drinks. If you like coffee or tea, consume these in moderation and be aware that they can cause dehydration when consumed in large quantities. Make it your goal to drink half your weight in ounces of water. So, if you weigh 130lbs, your goal is to drink 65oz of water.
5. Let it go!
This one is really important to remember. The holidays are meant to be fun, so be mindful but enjoy yourself. If you had one roll too many, or that slice of pie you didn’t need, let it go and look at each meal as an opportunity to fuel and nourish your body with care.
I hope you enjoy all the wonderful food and time with your loved ones this holiday season!
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