The holidays are a time for celebration, making memories with family and friends, and of course, eating good food. For some athletes and/or other health-conscious individuals, the food aspect of holidays can sometimes evoke feelings of anxiety or unnecessary worry surrounding the consumption or amount of foods not normally eaten. This article provides 5 tips for how to enjoy the holidays, ease worried thoughts that may arise, and provide a sense of reassurance that health and holiday food can strike an appropriate balance.
1. Fill up on the foods that make you feel best first
Just because there are indulgent foods and desserts present at holiday occasions doesn’t typically mean that only those types of foods are available. Often times, entrée and side dishes are often made up of lean proteins, vegetables and resistant starches. Begin with these foods so that by the time dessert comes around, you have room for a reasonable portion. For entrée-based or side dish foods that are more indulgent, take a small portion and fill up the rest of your plate with the foods you know will make you feel your best.
Pro Tip: if you are attending a holiday party and/or hosting be sure to make or bring a couple of options that you would feel great about eating.
2. Do something active
If you enjoy physical activity, try to carve out some time during the holidays to participate in activity that makes you feel good. Grab the family and go for a walk or hike, hit the gym, or recruit an old friend to try a new workout class. Being active will get endorphins pumping and help to relieve any tension or stress.
Pro Tip: bringing friends or family along is a great way to make memories and spend quality time while also getting activity in. Win, win!
3. Practice mindfulness before, during, and after meals
If your primary concern is the quantity and quality of food available, practice mindfulness surrounding meals. Before each meal assess hunger level and foods available and make a decision on what you will put on your plate before you hit the buffet line. During the meals, slow down, engage in conversation with the friends and family around you, and take time to let your brain and stomach catch up. After meals, assess your hunger level again and choose an appropriately portioned dessert that allows you to indulge without feeling poorly.
Pro Tip: fill up ¾ of your plate with foods that will make you feel your best and ¼ of your plate with the more indulgent foods. Try to relax and allow yourself to enjoy this holiday meal with those around you.
Make sure to stay hydrated, as dehydration can often mimic hunger. This is especially important if you are drinking alcohol. Make sure to always have a glass of water around you and choose hydrating beverages that you enjoy.
Pro Tip: begin your day with 2, 8-ounce glasses of water to start off on the right foot!
5. Remember what matters most
At the end of the day, the holidays only come around once a year and it is a time to reflect, to be with family and friends, and to make memories. Try to stay focused on loved ones around you and remain positive. Not only will this serve you, but you will be pleasurable for those around you, adding positivity and joyfulness to the holiday environment.
Pro Tip: during your holiday practice gratitude by starting each morning with writing down or thinking about 5 things you are grateful for. Feel free to share these thoughts with family as well (if desired) and ask them to share what they are grateful for.
Happy Holidays from the Strength Editorial Team!