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Healthy Holiday Tips

The holidays are right around the corner! With all of the holiday treats, sweets, casseroles, and sugary drinks, it's no wonder that we tend to gain weight this time of year. Follow these tips to have a healthy and delicious holiday season. Remember, the goal is not to deprive yourself, but rather to manage your portions and enjoy foods in moderation.

  • Reflect on past holiday experiences to understand personal eating behaviors and triggers that lead to negative emotions or behaviors. Create a plan to deal with these situations positively.
  • Practice portion control and mindful eating. Use smaller plates when possible and listen to your body -- eat until you are satisfied, not until you are stuffed.
  • Avoid grazing. A few bites here and there between meals or while cooking can add up quickly - as much as 500 extra calories per day, which translates to 1 pound of weight gain per week. Plan on eating windows with set start and end times and stick to them.
  • Drink water. Eggnog and other holiday drinks, even non-alcoholic options, can be high in sugar, fat, and calories. Pick your favorite caloric drink and have 1-2 glasses, then switch to water.
  • Modify holiday recipes. Applesauce can replace oil, butter, or margarine in many baking recipes. Try Greek yogurt instead of sour cream or mayonnaise. Use broth-based soups instead of cream-based. Choose fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese.
  • Pace yourself. Try not to inhale your food, take your time and savor each bite. This will give your stomach the time it needs to send satiety cues to your brain to tell you that you're full. Savoring your food also helps you eat a reasonable amount by increasing satisfaction levels.
  • Be physically active. With the weather turning colder, this is a great opportunity to try new ways of being active indoors. You don't need a home gym to be active - there are plenty of exercises you can do at home with zero equipment and limited space. Search on YouTube for exercise videos or attend a PEAK virtual fitness class.
  • Avoid skipping meals. "Making room" for a big Thanksgiving dinner by fasting all day can backfire and cause you to overeat when you do finally sit down to the table. Instead, have a balanced breakfast and a light lunch.
  • Avoid the trap of "all or nothing" thinking. There is no such thing as a perfect diet, and it is possible to have a healthy dietary pattern while still enjoying holiday foods. If your food choices at one meal or on one day tend to derail your entire eating habits because you feel like it's already been "ruined", you may be falling victim to "all or nothing" thinking. A therapist can help you overcome this cognitive distortion.
  • Focus on the festivities. Attempt to identify and cherish other aspects of the holidays, aside from food, that bring you joy.*

*We understand that many struggle with grief surrounding the holidays. If you need additional support, please click here.