Keeping up with your healthy inclinations during the holidays isn’t as hard as you might think. With a little foresight and planning, the holiday season won’t derail your yearlong wellness efforts. Follow these tips and tricks to make it a happy and healthy occasion:
- Have a hearty breakfast: eating a filling and protein-rich breakfast increases feelings of satiety and helps reduce your desire for more food later.
- Enjoy antioxidant-rich foods like cranberries (they contain fiber, vitamin C and manganese, and may help to ward off UTIs, colon cancer, stomach ulcers, and cardiovascular and periodontal diseases). Make foods fresh rather than relying on items like canned cranberry relish, which can pack a lot of sugar.
- Take a walk before the big meal. Getting some pre-meal activity in can help ease anxiety and burn calories to make room for a larger-than-normal meal.
- Alternate alcoholic beverages with a glass of water to stay hydrated and slash excess calories. Better yet, pour a drop of peppermint essential oil in your water; the oil makes you feel satisfied and fuller, and can reduce your appetite.
- Whet your palate with soup, crudites or nuts. Eating these nourishing appetizers will limit space for unhealthier items that might be offered throughout the day.
- Turn off the tunes during dinner. Researchers at Brigham Young University and Colorado State University spearheaded a study that found when participants could hear themselves chew, they consumed less food; this is known as the “crunch effect.” Individuals who ate with louder noise in the background ate four pretzels, while those who were able to hear themselves chew ate just 2.47. The researchers found that just asking participants to think about the sounds they might make while eating also helped the eaters consume smaller amounts of food. And the louder the mastication process, the less people ate. So, the next time your sibling jabs you for your annoying chewing, let him/her know that you’re just watching what you eat.
- Walk away from the food. When food is out of sight, it’s more likely to be out of mind—especially if you’re just noshing because it’s there. Once you’re full, focus on the conversation and the company.
- Pile your plate with fruit after dinner, and split a richer dessert with a loved one. You’ll eat less but spread the love and festive feelings!
Ryan S. Elder et al. The crunch effect: Food sound salience as a consumption monitoring cue, Food Quality and Preference (2016). DOI: 10.1016/j.foodqual.2016.02.015
Photo by Matthew Weiss/Soul and Structure