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Applying Food Balance During the Holidays

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  • Written By: Kirby Nutrition Care
Applying Food Balance During the Holidays

The holidays are just around the corner and before we know it, we’ll be wrapped up in all the fun festivities. While the holidays are a joyous time of celebration, our regular routines are interrupted, which can bring about additional stress and anxiety. A major challenge is enjoying the holiday celebrations while maintaining healthy habits, especially when it comes to eating.

Whether you’re preparing several dishes, trying a new recipe, or working around dietary needs, making so many decisions around food can be overwhelming. We’re also surrounded with comforting dishes that we may only be exposed to one time a year. Rather than depriving yourself of your favorite holiday foods, let’s discuss ways to find balance while eating so you can fully enjoy that pumpkin pie with zero guilt! We only get to celebrate the holidays once a year, so why not find enjoyment and avoid ending the holidays feeling drained and unsatisfied.

Here are 6 tips to help you practice moderation and avoid deprivation during the holidays:

  • Don’t Skip Breakfast – You may be tempted to “save up” your calories for the one big holiday meal you’re planning to have. But restricting your calories earlier in the day, may cause excessive hunger by the time you arrive at the holiday meal later on. Feeling starved before a meal could lead to eating past the point of comfortable fullness. Stick with eating a regular breakfast to ensure that you maintain a normal hunger level when you show up to your holiday meal.
  • Use the Hunger-Fullness Scale – Check in with your hunger and fullness levels before, after, and during holiday meals. Utilizing the Hunger-Fullness scale can help you practice mindful eating, which can allow you to fully enjoy all your favorite holiday dishes. When looking at this scale, aim to stay within the green zone to reduce your chances of overeating and feeling uncomfortable.

scale 1 to 10

  • Follow the Plate Method – Aim to balance your meals by incorporating protein, starch, and vegetables. Eating all the food groups will promote feeling full and satisfied while regulating your blood sugar. If you don’t feel like practicing this at a holiday meal, then plan to do this at other surrounding meals so that you can show up for the holiday meal not feeling starved.

  • Stay Hydrated – Feeling thirsty feels awfully similar to feeling hungry and often gets mistaken for hunger. Being dehydrated can leave you feeling tired, which can also increase your chances of overeating. Holiday dishes may contain extra salt, which can be dehydrating. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to avoid the negative effects of dehydration. Don’t forget to hydrate with water when consuming alcohol, too. Add in a water between alcoholic beverages to maintain good hydration.
  • Enjoy Gentle Movement – Finding time to move your body during the holidays can help to reduce stress/anxiety, promote good digestion, and balance your blood sugar. Try going for a walk, practice yoga, do an at home workout, or try a few minutes of stretching. The goal of getting in movement during this time isn’t to “work off calories” or to “earn” your holiday meal. Instead, exercise can simply be a way for you perform self-care and nurture your body.
  • Enjoy Yourself – Remember that you only eat most of these dishes a few times per year, so enjoy them without guilt! Skip the dishes that you don’t love or regularly consume outside of the holidays, and allow yourself to fully indulge in your favorite holiday foods. Ditch the “good” and “bad” labels that you may have regarding foods – foods don’t have morals and are meant to be enjoyed. And lastly, remember to stay present while eating to enjoy your meal and time with family and friends.