Holiday Nutrition Tips

Marissa Snowden, CFT

Holidays are a time of happiness, relaxation and fun. We tend to let our guard down and let loose more than usual. This is especially essential this holiday season after what 2020 has thrown at us this year. 

Unfortunately sometimes we get a little tooo comfortable during the holidays and end up over doing it, especially since the fall and winter holidays are focused heavily around meals. This overindulgence can leave us feeling sluggish, bloated, and overall feeling as if we have strayed from our goals. 

You absolutely should be able to enjoy holiday food and partake in some delicacies you wouldn’t normally have the rest of the year. However, it is possible to strike a healthy balance between going overboard and being overly restrictive. 

Portion Control

The first and possibly easiest step is to exercise portion control. You don’t even necessarily have to dish yourself out tiny portions, just don’t eat too much. Another way to exercise this is to make yourself one plate and stop (it’s easy to go back for seconds that we don’t need, we just want them.) By doing this you are saving yourself hundreds of calories that your body doesn’t need. When you are in calorie excess and they are not being utilized (for example, a heavy lifting regime), over time this can cause you to gain weight (and not in muscle either). Only eat what you need! By not overeating you will already feel better than if you ingest that extra dip of mashed potatoes. 

Drink Water

Next step: drink plenty of water! Not only do you want to make sure you’re staying hydrated (which will also help you feel full), it will give you less opportunity to drink your calories. Most people don’t consider how many of their calories they are drinking. Their diet may be fairly good, they may be following a lifting/cardio routine, and still they aren’t losing the weight they want to. Why? Because they forgot to take into consideration all the calories in the soda and juice they are drinking. This may not be a big deal if it is a small amount, but when you’re main source of liquid all day is something other than water this could cause a problem. 

Sodium Intake

Another thing to take into consideration is your salt intake during this time of year. Depending on your usual diet, dishes like ham will be considerably higher in sodium than your usual fare. This can cause bloating and could even raise your blood pressure, so be mindful to watch your sodium. Consider using ingredients that have no salt added or lower sodium than other options. This isn’t to say you can’t have salt at all, but it’s easier to add the amount of salt you’d usually have to it instead of it already being added for you (think broth and canned items).

Don't Sleep On A Full Stomach

This is a tip you should be applying throughout the year: don’t eat too closely to your bedtime! If your food isn’t digested before you turn in for the night, that means your body has to continue to process it while you sleep. Not only does this give an opportunity for indigestion, the digestive process is taking away from what your body should be doing at this time: resting and repairing itself. This is why you may feel tired the next morning if you went to bed on a very full stomach.

Take A Walk

The last piece of advice is probably the easiest: take a walk! We may not be following our usual workout routines during the holidays due to spending time with family, traveling, or just taking a break. That doesn’t mean we should cease all physical activity. So after you perform your curls to your face with your fork, go outside and get some fresh air. You don't even have to go anywhere, just take a walk around the neighborhood. This is also another opportunity to spend time with family and let children get some of their pent up energy out. Taking a walk at least once a day during the holidays will do much to increase your energy and lift your spirits. 

So before you head into the new year feeling as if you have to start all over again, take it easy on yourself during this holiday season. Prioritize doing the things you love and spending time with your family, and remember this delicious food is to fuel all these wonderful activities. 

Wishing you a happy holiday season!

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