4 tips for keeping your eating habits healthy during

the holiday season

Photo by Kate Laine on Unsplash

The holiday season is back. Although with some restrictions this year, it’s the time of coming together with friends and family to celebrate. And by celebrating we also mean eating. We all know how challenging it can be to keep a diet healthy during this time. Whether you are visiting a childhood friend or your family, you will most likely face a festive dinner. This means, there will be a lot of food. And everything will taste so good! With so many delicious treats and snacks, you could basically spend the whole day eating. But let’s not fret, yet. We are here with 4 tips to help you maintain healthy eating habits and avoid overeating during the holiday season.

  1. Organize a Potluck dinner!

Usually, you can’t choose what kind of food is being served when you are not the host. This means you don’t even get the chance to eat healthy. But wait… there is a way for you to gain a bit of control over what’s being served: A Potluck dinner! 

If everyone brings one dish to share, you will have a great variety of dishes and no one is going to leave hungry. It also doesn’t matter if there are 10 people attending or just 4. Even in times of Covid-19 when you can’t gather with your whole group of friends, you can still have a nice and easy dinner. Of course, this requires a small amount of organization, so you don’t end up with 3 pasta salads, a tomato soup and no dessert. But this is nothing a list can’t solve. Just write down all you need, let everyone assign themselves and make sure that everything gets covered. 

  1. Take your potluck dinner up a notch 

If you decided to organize a potluck dinner this year, you can make the event even more interesting by adding a healthy spin to it. How about a whole roasted cauliflower instead of the traditional turkey? Now it’s your chance to get creative in the kitchen and show everyone that eating healthy doesn’t mean you have to eat salads all day. There are so many exciting recipes out there waiting to be discovered and shared with everyone. 

You can even take it a step further and agree on a theme for the whole dinner. This could be different cuisines like “Indian” or ”French” or even a more experimental theme like “traditional dishes gone vegan”. There is really no limit to your ideas. 

Photo by Hari Nandakumar on Unsplash

  1. Try to eat mindfully

We all know how easy it is to overeat when we attend a holiday feast with other people. Suddenly your stomach seems to have doubled in size. And you often realize this only after you’ve finished eating. But then it’s too late, you are already stuffed to the point where you have to lay down for a while to digest. 

That’s why studies suggest eating mindfully, which involves making conscious food choices and  being aware of internal cues indicating how full you are. When you eat mindfully you appreciate the taste of the food more and you are less likely to overeat. So, during dinner try to ask yourself: What does the food taste like? What are the different flavors? How does it feel in my mouth? 

  1. Try these stress-reducing activities

In addition to food, there is something else that there is plenty of at any holiday dinner: stress. This doesn’t come as a surprise, they are indeed a lot of potential stress factors.

When hosting a Christmas dinner, everything has to go smoothly. And if we are one of the fortunate ones that get to visit our relatives this year, we are expected to get along with everyone, even the weird uncle. 

All this can be exhausting and lead to stress. And when stressed, studies have shown, human beings tend to eat more. And what’s worse, the food we eat is usually unhealthy at these types of gatherings. 

Therefore, it’s important to have some stress-reducing activities in place to avoid stress eating.

These can be going for a walk (preferably in nature) to let your mind wind down. Another option would be to withdraw yourself from the social situation to a calmer place and meditate for a few minutes. Or if the hosts have a dog or a cat, why not spend some time petting it. This is not only relaxing, but you are also likely to have a new furry friend for the evening.

Make the most of it!

This year’s holiday season is already challenging as it is. Many of us are not able to visit friends and family. But if you are one of the lucky ones that have this opportunity, we hope that our 4 tips will help you enjoy this time as much as possible. 

Now you are prepared to maintain your healthy eating habits during the holiday season. 

So, why don’t you try to organize a potluck dinner this year instead of the traditional Christmas dinner? Maybe you will even find a fun theme for your holiday dishes. 

While eating, don’t forget to be mindful from time to time of what you eat. And finally, when you start to feel stressed, try out one of our stress-reducing activities.

  • Díaz-Zavala, R. G., Castro-Cantú, M. F., Valencia, M. E., Álvarez-Hernández, G., Haby, M. M., & Esparza-Romero, J. (2017). Effect of the Holiday Season on Weight Gain: A Narrative Review. Journal of Obesity, 2017, 1–13. https://doi.org/10.1155/2017/2085136 
  • Warren, J. M., Smith, N., & Ashwell, M. (2017). A structured literature review on the role of mindfulness, mindful eating and intuitive eating in changing eating behaviours: effectiveness and associated potential mechanisms. Nutrition Research Reviews, 30(2), 272–283. https://doi.org/10.1017/s0954422417000154 
  • Adam, T. C., & Epel, E. S. (2007). Stress, eating and the reward system. Physiology & Behavior, 91(4), 449–458. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.physbeh.2007.04.011 

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