When you're following a diet or healthy lifestyle routine, staying strong and disciplined can be challenging during the holidays. There are typically more cocktails, traditional family recipes, desserts, and spirit-filled plans than the rest of the year. Your good intentions can easily go right out the back door. So before you lift that glass of spiked eggnog or slice of Aunt Mary's cheesecake, check out these mindful holiday eating tips, according to Kim Shapira M.S., R.D., a celebrity dietitian, nutritional therapist, and author.
"The holidays are amazing and only around for a short while," Shapira explains. "Many Americans struggle during this time. We can change that by practicing being mindful, starting each day as a new day, trusting that your body can make up for your mistakes, and doing everything you can to honor the needs of your body when it needs it."
Eat This, Not That! always has your back and is here to tell you that an innocent cup of eggnog will set you back around 224 calories. And we know you love Aunt Mary, but her cheesecake can exceed 400 calories in ways that will make you cringe depending on delectable toppings or heaven forbid a crunchy chocolate bottom. 'Tis the season to socialize, but there are many food choices you can maintain so you can stay more on track. You've got this, and when you're done learning these helpful tricks, check out 9 Lazy Ways to Lose Weight All Month Long.
Establish a game plan.
First and foremost, Shapira emphasizes the importance of having a plan. "This is one of those moments where it's gonna take some effort," she explains. "It's not hard, [as] we make 221 food decisions every day. This is just you being intentional. During the holidays, make it a plan to put space between the thought to eat and the action. Let this pause help you understand if you are hungry or just 'seeing' food.
Savor your food.
This holiday season and beyond, slow things down and really take the time to enjoy the food in your mouth. This will help you eat slower, and it lets your body quickly determine when you've eaten enough.
"The goal is to eat every two to three hours and be hungry when you eat. Most of us don't need as much food as we eat to lose weight and maintain [a healthy] weight," Shapira says. "It's important to get hungry throughout the day; the goal is to get hungry, but not to stay hungry, and only eat as much as you need now. This tells your body and your mind that you're safe."
Eat at the table without your phone.
Another great habit to get into is eating at the table without your phone. This will further help you to savor every bite of your meal.
Shapira points out that eating in a calm environment isn't always possible, but there are certain tools you can use to achieve a peaceful state of eating. "Do your best [to] take deep breaths before you eat [to] make sure your body is actually ready," she explains. "You know your body is ready when you smell your food and saliva builds in your mouth. [Use this as a tool] before you eat to make sure your body is ready to break down the fuel you're giving it. This prevents digestive distress."
Along with your phone, tune out any other distractions that are holding you back from being present and making the healthiest food choices. We know there are a lot of festive things going on during a holiday dinner, but research links distracted eating to weight gain. For instance, a holiday movie may be best enjoyed after you finish your meal so that you don't end up eating more than you planned on.
Drink plenty of water.
No matter the holiday gathering you attend, be sure you're drinking enough water. "Be mindful of water; it's the secret sauce to being well," Shapira tells us. "Drink eight cups. If you are having a hard time drinking water because it's cold outside, warm the water up. This will help your body lower inflammation, improve the way that you feel, function, [and] sleep, and [it] can improve your motivation to do other great things for yourself."