A Healthier U

HEALTHY HOLIDAY HABITS

By University of Utah Health

The holiday season is here again and that has a lot of people thinking about food. While surrounded by all the delicious seasonal dishes, it leaves many feeling forced to choose between their nutrition goals and enjoying their favorite holiday foods. We’re sharing a few of our favorite hacks to satisfy holiday food cravings, enjoy holiday parties and prioritize your health.

Avoid arriving at holiday meals overly hungry. Skipping meals beforehand can backfire on us by increasing interest and/or triggering anxiety in the food spread, which usually causes us to eat too quickly. Rapid eating makes it challenging to cue into fullness signals which can cause most to eat more than we normally would.

Give yourself permission to eat the foods you love. Food is a key part of the holidays and it’s perfectly normal to love stuffing or pumpkin pie. Often times when you stop associating negative emotions such as guilt or shame with these holiday favorites and allow yourself to eat a portion that feels good to you, these foods can actually stop feeling like such a big deal to be around.

Say goodbye to the feast or famine mentality. I often hear the comment “but I only get to eat this . . . once a year”. This feast or famine mentality often ups the anxiety around specific foods. It’s okay to enjoy favorite holiday foods a couple months later to keep them from feeling like such an overwhelmingly significant part of the holidays.

Cue into fullness signals. There’s a host of distractions between the bountiful spread of food and conversations shared with loved ones that make it easy to ignore internal fullness signals. Set yourself up for success by sitting down while you eat, eating slowly and periodically asking yourself if you are still hungry.

Focus on other traditions. Food traditions might feel like they play an overwhelming role during the holidays. If this is true for you, I’d encourage you to take a step back and appreciate other components. You’ll begin to notice how many wonderful traditions you celebrate outside of food. From making memories with loved ones, looking at lights, enjoying your favorite holiday music, trimming your home in festive cheer or making donations to people in need, there are bound to be a lot of non-food traditions that make this time of year extremely special to you.

The holidays are a time of joy, not of shame and regret. By making little changes to your mindset and how you interact with food you can make sure you have a great time and not derail your health.

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