The Wellie Project: Healthy Bellies, Happy Hearts
We spend all year trying to eat health–and then the holidays come along. Suddenly all bets are off, and just like that we throw everything out the window, promising to start over on January 1st.
What if I told you there was a way to eat all of the holiday food and enjoy it without wrecking your health along the way? Yes, it’s totally possible!
Here are five ways to win the food game this holiday season:
Eat the good-for-you stuff first: While your taste buds are busy celebrating, it’s important to make sure your body is still getting the nutrients it needs to stay energized and healthy. Strive to start each day with a solid breakfast that includes whole grains, some protein, a little healthy fat, and a big serving of fruits or veggies. Then, if you’re going to a party or gathering later in the day, have a healthy snack or small meal before you go. That way you don’t have to stress about what is or isn’t going to be on the buffet table and you can just focus on having fun.
Go slow: Planning to fill up your plate with a little bit of everything on Thanksgiving? Go for it! But put your fork down after each bite and let yourself taste all of the delicious flavors. Too often we don’t even enjoy the food that’s in our mouth because we’re too busy loading up our fork with more. Eating slower also gives your stomach more time to let your brain know that it’s had enough. That way you can stop before reaching the “I’m so full I need to unbutton my pants” stage. Nobody likes that stage.
Don’t try to “save calories” by skipping meals: Eat less food throughout the day to make up for the extra calories you’ll be eating at that party later. Totally makes sense, right? Right, except that this plan pretty much always backfires. By the time the party rolls around, you’re so crazy hungry that you just want to eat everything in sight and end up consuming way more calories than you “saved.” Instead, eat small meals and snacks every three-to-four hours throughout the day. This will prevent you from feeling compelled to make a dash for the buffet as soon as you walk in the door.
Make water your new best friend: Did you know that salt, sugar, alcohol and caffeine dehydrate the body? Yup, all those things that we indulge in during the holidays can wreak havoc on us internally. Too much of any or all of these things can cause headaches, tiredness, muscle cramps, dry mouth, and even dry skin! Be sure to step up your water game to balance it out, especially if you start to notice some of these symptoms.
Say “no” like a broken record: Did you ever learn the broken record technique as a kid for dealing with peer pressure? It really comes in handy when you’re being pressured about food, too! It usually goes something like this: “I want a second piece of pie but can’t eat the whole thing. Will you split it with me?” or “I’ll go back for seconds if you do.” Don’t fall for these lines! If your health is a priority, say no. If you don’t want it, say no. If you’re full, say no. If you don’t like it, say no. You know your values and your limits better than anyone else, and you can’t be afraid to stand your ground!
The most important thing is to pace yourself and remember that the holidays are a marathon, not a sprint! You can enjoy all the flavors of the season without sacrificing your health.
For more tips on eating well, visit The Wellie Project.