Learn our best tips on how you can maintain your balanced eating habits during the holidays and beyond this year.
The holidays are often a particularly trying time when it comes to maintaining balanced eating habits. It makes sense though, right? Our routines are often shifting frequently due to events, outings, and vacation time. Additionally, for a lot of people, this involves much more socialization than they’re used to on a regular week-to-week basis.
Changes in routines and schedules generally indicate a change in eating opportunities and options. There may be more sweets and treats around than you’re used to, more social eating sessions, and simply more opportunities for dining out. While the holidays are a beautiful time to celebrate and spend time with loved ones, it’s understandable that this same time can be a bit more stressful than most.
By learning how to navigate the holidays with ease, you can spend more time focussing on the enjoyment and excitement, and less time on the stress and guilt of food choices. Keep reading to learn my top 5 tips for how you can maintain balanced eating habits during the holidays.
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5 Ways You Can Stay Balanced During The Holiday Season
There are so many outlets out there that will tell you exactly how to “make up for” holiday eating, and “reset” for the new year. But why should you wait until after the holidays? Don’t you deserve to put your health first now? And break the guilt cycle you’re used to experiencing?
Well, I certainly think you do. So let’s chat through exactly how you can put yourself and your health first to practice those balanced eating habits during the holidays.
1. Set An Intention For Yourself And Your Experience
We’re creatures of habit. This means, we often function on auto-pilot when we’re in familiar scenarios and situations. If you have a history of feeling a bit stressed during eating situations at holiday events, or of simply checking out and mindlessly eating in the past, chances are, if we don’t intervene, history is bound to repeat itself.
As you approach your holiday events and gatherings, think about what you would like to experience. Think about the purpose for being there, what you would like to do, and how you would like to feel afterward.
That may involve enjoying the company of others, practicing gratitude for all of the wonderful, cultural, and delicious food you have access to. Or maybe it involves gratitude for some time alone to relax and recuperate during the holiday season!
Whatever that may look like to you, picture it. Envision what you would like to happen and how you would like to feel. As well as, how you will act in order for that to take place. Setting an intention is such a powerful tool to ensure you maintain balanced eating during the holidays.
2. Practice Mindful Eating
Mindless eating is one of the most common ailments I hear from the Nutrition Stripped community during the holiday season. With so much going on, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and mindlessly eat.
This time around, focus on mindful eating habits you can hold on to as you navigate the holidays. Maybe that means you really check in with your hunger and satiety cues while at a holiday gathering, or while at home after having purchased some of your holiday favorites from your local bakery or the grocery store.
Maybe that means you pause to reflect on your stress and emotion levels to make sure you address them with compassion and ease so you don’t unintentionally attempt to cope through mindless eating.
You can even set specific mindful eating intentions as well! It’s particularly common for individuals to feel compelled to eat things simply because they’re easily accessible during the holidays (i.e. the stale sugar cookies in the breakroom at the office).
If this is something you’ve struggled with in the past, set a mindful intention for yourself. Ask yourself, “What food items am I really looking forward to enjoying this season? Or at this particular event? On the other hand, what do I frequently not really enjoy and what do I want to choose not to have?”.
Pausing to reflect and plan ahead for mindfulness can set you up for success.
3. Communicate Your Needs To Promote Balanced Eating During The Holidays
Communication is key for so many facets of a healthy relationship with food. During the holidays, it’s no different. We’re all unique in so many different ways, so in order for us to eat balanced in a way that works well for us individually, it’s important to communicate our needs when necessary.
Maybe you’d like an idea for what’s being served at the holiday dinner you’re attending, so you contact the host for a quick heads up. Or maybe you have a food sensitivity to be wary of, so you let the host know you’re bringing a dish that ensures you have something to eat. Or lastly, maybe your friend or family member really wants you to try their dish but it just isn’t something you’d like to have. It’s perfectly fine to kindly and honestly communicate with them that it looks so delicious! But you’re good to go with what you already have at the moment.
Communicate with others to relieve the pressure of internalizing your questions, thoughts, and apprehensions.
4. Build A Balanced Plate, Smoothie, or Bowl
No matter the time of year, a balanced plate is always a good idea to help balanced eating. A balanced plate allows you to feel full, satiated and energized after your meals. It ensures you’ve given your body everything it needs to thrive so you can be fully present and enjoy the holiday season!
So what does this balanced plate look like? The Foundational Five is my fool-proof framework for building a balanced plate with ease. When preparing, building, or choosing meals, just run through the following formula to the best of your ability to see if you can involve each of these components: Protein + Starchy and Sugary Carbohydrates + Non-Starchy Carbohydrates + Fat + Flavor Factor.
There are a few ways you can use this balanced plate model to maintain balanced eating during the holidays. Firstly, you can use it day-to-day for meals whether you’re attending a holiday event or not. That way, you’ve practiced plenty and feel confident.
Secondly, you can use it on the day of your holiday event or gathering. We don’t want to “save up” or fast for holiday meals or skip breakfast. Instead, stick to your routines and eat balanced outside of the event. That way, when you get there, you’re excited and hungry for the meal, but not starving and feeling out of control.
For example, including a balanced breakfast like a smoothie is such an easy, delicious, and nutritious way to nourish yourself.
Try this quick smoothie recipe:
To a high-speed blender, add the following ingredients and blend until smooth:
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 1 cup frozen berries like raspberries or strawberries (or if you have dragon fruit, this makes for a beautiful festive color!)
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- 1 pinch of ground cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
- 1 scoop of Amazing Grass Greens Blend
- 1 scoop of Amazing Grass Organic Plant Protein Blend vanilla flavor
We love Amazing Grass products for so many reasons. That’s why we’ve been recommending their products for years! They have such high-quality ingredients, delicious flavors, and their products are so versatile.
The Greens Blend is such an easy and convenient way to get 2 servings of fruits and vegetables into your day along with 7 nutritious greens, as well as vitamins C & K in just 1 scoop. Plus, their Organic Plant Protein Blend is great for all protein-powder users or those who are looking to boost the plant-based protein in any smoothie to make it more balanced. It’s gluten-free and plant-based, plus just one scoop provides 20g of protein, which is the exact protein amount we recommend here at Nutrition Stripped for the average person at each meal.
Lastly, keep the Foundational Five in mind when you’re at a gathering or event. Whether it’s at a restaurant, a potluck, or a buffet, run through the list and see what you can do! Will it be perfect? Probably not, and that’s to be expected. It’s a baseline framework to work with, not a steadfast food rule you must follow.
5. Remember To Enjoy Yourself
When we talk about balanced eating, we have to talk about the balance between nourishment and enjoyment.
All too often people can find themselves in one camp or the other, especially during the holidays. Where they’re either only thinking about enjoyment and instant gratification, or attempting to “be good” and avoiding enjoyment-based foods in an attempt to focus solely on nourishment.
This mindset with food can lead to an all-or-nothing, start-and-stop cycle. Over time, this can lead to crash diets, food guilt, stress and overwhelm. None of which embody balance!
So to prevent this, start practicing balance with your eating choices during the holidays. Prioritize and incorporate enjoyment foods that you love, simply because you love them. Prioritize and incorporate nourishing foods that make you feel good and fuel your body. That way, you’re balanced from the inside out.
Are You Feeling Stressed About Food?
The tips in this article are a great place to start if you’re feeling stressed about food during the holiday season. But with that said, it’s important to remove food stress and maintain balance as best as you can all year long!
If this is something you struggle with, sign up to watch my free masterclass today, where you’ll learn about the #1 Habit That Keeps You Struggling With Your Weight and Relationship With Food — And How To Break Free From The Diet And Food Obsession Starting Now.
You don’t need to stress and obsess about food. There is a better way, and yes it’s possible to cultivate a positive relationship with food! Join this free balanced eating masterclass to learn how.