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Healthy Holidays with HealthyU Nutrition

The holiday season is officially here!

Navigating the holiday season while working on your health and wellness goals is challenging. There are a lot of beliefs and theories about eating, meals, and physical activity that can be both positive and negative.

For a long time, and likely to this day, you would hear some in the fitness industry talking about earning your food and meals, especially holiday meals. Comparisons of how many minutes of exercise you need to do to burn off a slice of pie or the extra serving of gravy. Exercise should not be punishment for eating food though. Exercise should always be a celebration or appreciation of what your body can do and the benefits of that.

On the other hand, the notion that it doesn't matter what you do between Thanksgiving and New Year's, it's what you do between New Year's and Thanksgiving can be detrimental to health and wellness if balance and moderation are not practiced between holiday meals, and even during the meal to some extent. Over doing it during the holidays can undo habits you worked hard to establish and result in unwanted changes moving backwards. Finding balance during the holidays is still important.

So, how do we enjoy all our favorite meals, celebrate with friends and family without feeling left out while still maintaining health habits and keeping our goals within reach? Like most things in life, it’s going to be different for each of us depending on where we are in our wellness journey, level of self-discipline, and number of additional social events between typical holiday meals.

If you’re still getting started on your wellness journey and still struggling with finding balance, the holiday season may be a time to work on newly formed habits, practice mindfulness with hunger and satiety cues, and avoid foods that may lead to going overboard. Limiting additional indulgent foods between holiday meals and social events by sticking to your normal meal pattern will allow you to keep practicing good habits and give you more leeway at social events and holiday meals without moving backwards. If you have made significant improvements to your health or weight, based on what your goals are, it’s ok to maintain those improvements during the holiday season, rather than expecting yourself to continue to move forward. No progress is certainly better than moving backward.

If you’ve been on your wellness journey for a while and feel more confident exerting self-control, continue to rely on your hungry and satiety cues as holidays and social events shouldn’t be an excuse to eat to the point of uncomfortable fullness. Enjoy and savor your favorite foods, especially if you avoided them previous years, but within moderation. Skip the food you don’t enjoy as much saving the calories and room in your belly for the foods you do enjoy.

Be mindful of added calories from beverages and alcohol if you chose to partake. Pick diet or lower calorie beverages since liquid calories add up quick. If you love Eggnog, which is very high in calories, allow yourself one 4–6-ounce cup per event or for the year. If you do choose to drink alcohol, don’t drink on an empty stomach, choose lower calories options like wine spritzers, light beer, or a clear liquor mixed with sparkling water or club soda.

Regardless of where you’re at in your journey, starting meals and social events with protein and vegetables will help keep total calories limited and help prevent over-indulging. Its also important to remember that one meal or day of going overboard doesn’t mean you’ve undone all your hard work. Get back on track the next day by returning to your normal dietary patterns and physical activity routine.

As far as exercise goes, if you have normal exercise routine, stick with in. You don’t need to add days or time to your normal routine. Work on disassociating exercise as a punishment for eating or food as a reward for exercise. Adding a walk after an indulgent meal may make you feel better as it will help with digestion of food, but it won’t help you burn off all the calories from a slice of pie. Walk if it feels right or sit on the couch visiting with friends and family or watching that favorite movie.

Have a HealthyU Holidays!

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