Season’s Eatings: Healthy Habits for a Joyful Holiday

Season’s Eatings: Healthy Habits for a Joyful Holiday

Publish Date September 20, 2023 4 Minute Read

It's that wonderful time of the year again, filled with festive family gatherings, celebrations and an array of delicious dishes. Embrace the spirit of the season and savor every moment with tips for healthy holiday eating. From portion control to mocktail recipes, we’ve got you covered.

Eat Throughout the Day

If saving your appetite for the big feast has always been part of your holiday traditions, it’s time to shake things up. Eating when you’re hungry is a foundational act of self-care that makes it possible to build other healthy habits. Skipping meals or other restrictive eating practices can leave you feeling dizzy, weak or shaky, and often leads to overeating once the table is set.

Instead, try to maintain a regular eating pattern throughout the day. Have a balanced breakfast, a healthy lunch and snacks in between. Making healthier choices means listening to and respecting your body’s cues. If you’re looking for a little inspiration for daytime meals, check out these healthier breakfast ideas and easy, better-for-you appetizers:

Healthier Breakfast & Better-for-you Appetizers

Unwrap the Present Moment

Many of us look forward to the taste of our family’s favorite dishes all year long, and then work all day to perfect them. Still, years spent categorizing foods as naughty or nice can keep us from fully experiencing the comfort of our favorite meals.

Give yourself a gift this season by practicing mindful eating. Mindful eating means giving yourself permission to fully enjoy the experience of eating, while staying grounded in the present moment. Here are some tips for eating mindfully this holiday season:

  • Observe and Describe - As you gather around the table, take a moment to fully appreciate the company, the ambiance and the wonderful spread before you. Take in the colors, textures and aromas, practicing gratitude through prayer, a moment of meditation or by giving thanks to your friends and family for helping to prepare and share the meal.
  • One Present to Stay Present - Just like you unwrap one present at a time to fully enjoy your gifts, try to relish each bite mindfully, fully engaging your senses.
  • Practice Radical Acceptance - Accept that holiday meals and gatherings may come with indulgences. Embrace the experience by practicing self-compassion and kindness, honoring the recipe-writers in your family by enjoying the meal the way they intended.

When you stay grounded in the present moment, you aren’t thinking about the work of clearing the table or what your lifestyle might look like in the new year. You are free to enjoy the foods you love while listening to your body’s cues.

Celebrate with Portion Control

Holiday feasts offer an abundance of mouthwatering dishes, and it's natural to want to try them all. Enjoy a little bit of everything you love by practicing portion control. Create a balanced plate filled with a colorful array of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains. By savoring smaller portions of each delicacy, you can delight in all the flavors while listening to your body. If your eyes are often bigger than your stomach, try a smaller plate with lots of variety and plan on going back for seconds in 15-20 minutes. Giving your body time to start digesting will help you avoid that post-feast fatigue, so you can keep enjoying the party.

Raise a Glass to Healthier Beverages

Want to stay energized, mindful and vibrant during the holidays? Staying hydrated is a great place to start. Feeling particularly snacky this season? You may be dehydrated. Over time, your body may begin to misread its thirst cues as hunger, making it difficult to decipher when you’re truly hungry. If water doesn’t feel festive enough, try a refreshing fruit-infused water, sparkling water or herbal iced tea. Making a big toast? Opt for lighter alcoholic options like champagne, light beer or try a festive mocktail recipe!

Be Mindful of Emotional Eating

The holiday season can trigger a wide range of emotions, from joy and excitement to stress and sadness. Being mindful of emotional eating is essential, but it starts with being mindful of your emotions. If you often find yourself reaching for food when you're not physically hungry, take a moment to pause and reflect on what you're feeling. If naming your emotions feels challenging, you can start by considering how your body is feeling. Are you tense in your shoulders? Feeling a heaviness in your chest? Observe the sensations without judgement. Consider alternative ways to express and process your feelings. Spending time with loved ones, talking to a therapist or even going for a walk are great ways to explore and process your emotions.

As you embrace the holiday season, remember that there’s no greater gift than staying present, and that mindfulness and gratitude are the heart of joyful eating.

Practice Joyful Movement

Cold weather, warm comfort food and alcoholic beverages can leave us feeling unmotivated to exercise. Try these tips to get moving this season:

  • Begin with Joyful Movement
    Take a break from holiday chaos with a brisk walk or turn up the music and turn your pre-party cleaning into a danceathon.
  • Move After a Meal
    It might feel counterintuitive when all you want to do is nap, but according to a recent systematic review, exercising right after a meal helps regulate blood sugar levels. When the desire to nap begins to hit, go for a 20-minute walk. On dish duty? Grab a loved one and dance in the kitchen.
  • Make it a Memory
    Whether you’re playing kickball, tossing a football or even playing a lively game of charades, making movement a tradition is an excellent way to build healthy habits while making memories.

As you embrace the holiday season, remember that there’s no greater gift than staying present, and that mindfulness and gratitude are the heart of joyful eating. Celebrate and savor every moment, appreciating the abundance around you.

Hungry for More Holiday Tips?

Visit our blog for more healthy holiday inspiration. From vegan baking to alternative holiday meal ideas, we’ve got you covered with recipes, meal planning and more. Looking for personalized eating advice? Schedule a Telenutrition appointment with one of our dietitians today.

Disclaimer: This information is educational only and is not meant to provide healthcare recommendations. Please see a healthcare provider.