We are in the thick of the Holiday Season! This year may not have been as we had expected it to with family and friends gathered around the table on Thanksgiving, sharing roasted turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, and pumpkin pie. Maybe you have that one relative that always drinks a little too much wine and tells slightly inappropriate jokes (please tell me that my family is not the only one…) Maybe you have kids (or adults) that love gathering around the TV to play video games or watch whatever sports are on tv. This year we may be having to join our family and friends virtually for Christmas and New Years Eve. We may end up making smaller meals to feed only our immediate family. We may end up eating more food and drinking more drinks because we aren’t going anywhere (and what else would we do on the holiday) We have less people to feed, but will still make all of our favorite dishes. Maybe we’ll have more leftovers to enjoy over the next few days!
Whatever your Holiday plans are, whether you go somewhere or stay at home, we have some tips to help you enjoy the day and not feel so overstuffed and guilty about your choices the next day.
Eat a healthy snack so you are not over hungry. Whether going somewhere or enjoying your meal at home, plan and eat a healthy snack. Eat it before you leave your house or plan to eat it a few hours before your meal is ready. Don’t wait until you are over hungry - that will only cause you to overeat later. Have some fresh veggies and dip available to munch on throughout the day. Don’t wait until dinner to eat. Plan some snacks or smaller meals throughout the day.
Eat SLOWLY - enjoy the food and the company. All of that delicious Holiday food is just begging to be eaten! It’s been prepped and cooking for hours and surely you can’t wait to dig in! But take a moment to enjoy the meal, the company you are with, and the day. Eat mindfully. Take a bite and chew it slowly. Savor the flavors. Pause and breathe in between bites. Don’t load up your fork with food until you are done chewing and swallowing the previous bite. Take smaller bites of food.
Remember the Plate Method. Even with special occasion meals, it is best to remember the Plate Method to help eat a more balanced and filling meal without adding lots of extra calories. Load up half of your plate with non-starchy veggies first (green beans, salad, etc.) Then a quarter of your plate should be you protein. Lastly, fill the rest of the plate with small amounts of the starchy carbs (mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, bread, etc.)
Once finished, wait at least 10 minutes before getting more food. Wait for a few minutes after your plate is cleared before you decide if you want more. It may take 15-20 minutes for your full stomach to get the message to your brain. Talk with the other people at the table. Sit back and enjoy your drink for a minute. Then decide if you are really hungry for more food or if it’s just so yummy that you want to eat more. (I am guilty of that.) But, remember that there will be leftovers waiting for you later and you can enjoy it all over again then!
Enjoy a dessert slowly. Wait a few minutes after your main meal to have dessert. Talk with your friends, share stories. Then, when you are ready for dessert you will feel less hungry and will be more likely to eat a smaller amount. Also try using a smaller utensil to eat dessert with. You will take smaller bites, the bites will seem bigger, and you will hopefully relish the experience.
After dinner, go for a walk or another physical activity. You may need to wait a few minutes to let your food settle and the digestion process to start. But you should try and get up and get moving an hour or so after your big meal. You can enjoy some fresh air with the ones you just shared a meal with. Maybe check out the holiday lights around the neighborhood. Everyone will be happy to get out of the house after a long day. And the movement will help the digestive process move along so you aren’t stuck with a full, bloated stomach all night.
These few tips are great for your Holidays meals or any big, special occasion meal you may enjoy. Remember it is just one meal of one day, even if you do over indulge, that doesn’t mean that all your previous hard work is wasted. It shouldn’t be an excuse to fall off the wagon and go back to old habits. Be kind and patient with yourself and start tomorrow off anew!