Guys — real talk. We will never say no to that second slice of pumpkin pie. Or the homemade dollop of whipped cream on top. These extra treats can be enough to derail your healthy eating habits — unless you’ve got a mindful eating strategy. We tapped Dr. Deborah Tate, PhD and health psychologist, along with nutritionist Toby Amidor, MS, RD and nutrition partner with the American Macular Degeneration Foundation, for simple, realistic tweaks to try this season. Here are their five top tips for staying fit and energized ’til that last shred of tinsel is cleaned up.
1. Watch your grocery cart. “Research shows that shoppers spend about $16 per week more during the holidays (Thanksgiving through New Years) and that 75 percent of the extra spending is on less healthy food purchases,” says Dr. Tate. Focus on preventative measures while hitting the supermarket aisles: Shop the perimeters (where you’ll find your friends fruits and veggies), stick to your shopping list and never go food shopping on an empty stomach.
And ditto goes for arriving at a party hungry: “Make sure to eat a balanced snack before leaving for the party, like whole grain crackers and peanut butter or Greek yogurt topped with berries and sunflower seeds. That way you will be mindful of your choices instead of being famished and grabbing everything in sight,” suggests Amidor.
2. Focus on daily small changes. Extreme statements (example:”I’ll never eat dessert” or “I won’t touch anything fried”) can set us up for failure. Instead, zoom in on the tiny tweaks you want to make, such as “I’ll have a piece of fruit at every holiday gathering before dessert to crowd out my sweets cravings.”
3. Follow this simple bevvy rule. This may sound like a no-brainer, but the swap can make a huge difference on your health and energy status. “Replacing two calorie-laden beverages (sodas, sports drinks, coffee drinks, alcohol, etc.) each day with water produces about five pounds of weight loss in six months,” shares Dr. Tate. You’ll slash your sugar and caffeine intake and see your energy levels improve. If you think plain ol’ H2O is boring, try to harness your inner water lover and make one of these 20 tasty flavored waters.
4. Utilize online tools. What fun is dating without a little help from friends like Tinder or Bumble? Ditto for mindful eating. Using apps and online programs can help streamline your efforts and make conscious, thoughtful eating choices run on autopilot. “When looking for a digital solution for improving your holiday eating, look for programs that use email, phone, text message or other methods of communication to check in with and receive guidance from a professional or coach,” says Dr. Tate. “If… you just want to make healthier choices and improve your energy levels, you might find tools like Fitbit (the Tory Burch collection still has us swooning) helpful. They can track steps, activity, calories burned and more. To boost the fun and add some friendly competition, you can connect with your friends over the app as well.
5. Make a peaceful environment for eating. “Holiday time can be a very hectic time both at work and at home. When it’s time to eat, turn off the television and sit down so you can enjoy your meal in a quiet environment. If you’re at work, sit next to a window so you can get a nice view or natural sunlight. If it’s nice outside and you have the time, take a quick 10-15 minute walk to clear your mind after you eat and get some sunlight (and vitamin D),” advises Amidor.
Heading to a party? Fear not. Just remember to breathe: “Before starting to make your selection, take a deep breath and survey all the options available. Pausing enables you to appreciate the foods being offered and to select the foods you really want to eat,” says Amidor.
Tweet us your best tips for a happy and healthy holiday season @BritandCo!