5 Tips to Reduce Diet Stress During the Holidays

Eating Healthy During the Holidays is always a Challenge. Implement these 5 tips to make it easier for you.

It’s that time of year when we gather with family and friends to celebrate the holidays, but for anyone who is trying to eat healthier this holiday season it can be a bit of a struggle. Here are a few tips and tricks so that you can enjoy the season without derailing your healthy habits!

Avoid mindless snacking

Most holiday get togethers have a surplus of appetizers and snacks that you can graze on while you are catching up with family and friends. It’s just a few slices of cheese here, a handful of Chex mix there, oh and don’t forget the chips and dip, and a few cookies for the road! The thing about grazing is that you aren’t ever actually sure how much you are really eating! Instead of grabbing something every time you pass the appetizer table, take a plate and add whatever you are wanting to try. This will give you a much better visual of how much you are actually eating so that you aren’t overdoing it. Try to fill most of the plate with healthier, protein-rich options like cheese and nuts or veggies with dip to give you an extra nutrient boost!

Watch Portion Sizes

It can be tempting to overfill your plate with your favorite dishes you usually only get once a year for the holidays. This can lead to extra calories and a gut ache after dinner! Instead, try taking a small portion of each. Take your time eating as this will give your stomach time to let your brain know that it’s getting full. If you are still hungry after that first plate, then go back for a small second portion. You might be surprised how full you get after that first plate!

Get Your Protein, Fiber and Greens

Turkey, ham, and prime rib are a few popular main dishes during the holidays. The great thing about each of these is they are full of protein to help you feel satisfied and full after a meal. Other great options to load on your plate include leafy greens, sweet potatoes, Brussel sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower, fruit salad, and veggies from the veggie tray. Many times, these nutritious options are prepared with extra cheese, creamed soups, or rich dip, but at least you can count on getting some good fiber, vitamins and minerals in!

Watch What you Drink

We all know that a good holiday party is probably going to have an abundance of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drink options. It’s always fun to have a festive drink in hand while spending time with family and friends, but many times these drinks are filled with extra sugar and empty calories that don’t provide nutritious. Make a plan when heading to a holiday party to stick to one or two of these drinks and drink plenty of water to keep from overdoing it.

Let yourself have a treat!

Last, but not least, don’t be too hard on yourself! It’s a fun time of year, but can be stressful for someone who is trying to change their eating habits when there are so many temptations around. Being too rigid with your diet can make it difficult to enjoy the holidays. Instead, make a plan ahead of each party that you plan to go to. Pick one or two of your favorite things and let yourself have one portion of each of those things. This will take some of the stress off of what to eat and won’t derail your progress.

I like to think of the 80/20 rule when it comes to most things in life. 80% of the time try to make healthier choices, but 20% of the time it’s ok to choose some of the less nutritious food that you really enjoy. During the holidays this percentage might get skewed a little more towards 70/30 or every 60/40, but just remember it’s a few days out of the year and doesn’t mean that you are failing.

You’ve got this!

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Written by:

Casey Andrews, PT, DPT, OCS

Doctor of Physical Therapy,  Orthopedic Certified Specialist

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