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Healthy Eating During the Holidays

By Toni Brannagan

healthy-holiday-eating

Trying to stick to a proper diet around the holidays is a lot like trying to avoid carbs in a bakery: We can say we’re all about making healthy choices, but we know the real reason we’re there.

Between multi-course dinners, decadent desserts, and late-night McDonald’s runs because you’re drunk and nothing else in your hometown stays open past 11pm besides the bowling alley for some reason… wait, what was I talking about?

Ah, yes, attempting the futile effort to meal prep when all you want to do is eat your mom’s pecan pie for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and after-dinner (because you went to McDonald’s last night, were bullied by the teens skateboarding outside while you were in the drive-thru, and are now too frightened to return… hypothetically).

Here’s the thing: I’m not here to say that treating yourself during the holidays is *bad* at all, or to promote any negativity around eating, but I know how disheartening it can feel to throw away your healthy planning in the comfort foods of the holiday.

The good news is there are definitely ways to practice moderation, and to keep yourself on track. These aren’t exactly ideal circumstances to set up for “the new, healthy you,” you’ll inevitably feel pressure to commit to in 2019, but staying mindful about eating will help you avoid entering the new year plagued with unnecessary stress or guilt about food (or stomachaches, for that matter).

practice portion control

I probably can’t repeat this enough — denying yourself food is nooo way to live, y’all. Indulging in moderation is the key.

It seems obvious, but serve yourself smaller portions at family dinner if you can, and practice saying no to your grandmother in advance when she offers you seconds (she’s obligated by generational contract to tell you you’re not eating enough, don’t trust her).

If your family is one of those “Why isn’t your plate full, do you hate us, is this why you moved away??” types, load up your plate with veggies and take smaller amounts of the more indulgent stuff.

BYO

If you’re adhering to a more specific diet, or if you’re just plain worried that everything on the table at the party you’re going to is going to be deep-fried or carb-loaded or both, contribute a healthy choice! Cook a nutritious recipe and gift it to the host.

Not that confident in your culinary skills? Snack on something healthy, or have a smaller meal before you leave home so you’re less likely to over-eat unhealthy offerings.

limit your drinks

I probably don’t have to tell you that alcohol isn’t that healthy to begin with, no matter how many studies find that red wine is going to give you superpowers, or whatever.

But did you know that alcohol also stimulates your appetite? So capping your drinks at a specific number or time (ideally both) should help you avoid the desire to raid the fridge for leftovers.

exercise

Just like your diet, it can be tempting to ditch your usual regimen during a busy season of holiday parties or travel, but sticking to regular, light exercise will keep your energy up and might alleviate some of the guilt you have if you do go a li’l ham on your aunt’s key lime pie that you don’t even like that much (but it is pie, soooo).

But seriously, I can’t stress enough, you really shouldn’t be beating yourself up for enjoying food — during the holidays or otherwise. I don’t even think anyone should be applying anything I just wrote to a single meal, my intentions are to help y’all out with handling the entire *season*.

Do you stress about overindulging during the holidays? What are some of your tips for staying on the healthy track? Share with us in the comments!

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