By Catherine Hill MS, RD, LDN
With the holiday season upon us, you are sure to be tempted with an unlimited array of food. Sticking to your healthy lifestyle changes during this time may seem impossible, but with these simple tips you “have your cake and eat it too”.
1. Hunger Scale: this is a great tool to help you gauge your hunger (to know when to start eating) and your
satisfaction (to know when to stop eating). The goal here is to find your own personal hunger and satisfaction
- Practice by rating your hunger before your next meal. Where on the scale are you?
- Around a 2? Watch out, you are clearly very hungry and are more likely to overeat so be careful.
- Around a 4? Perfect, it may just take a small amount of food to feel satisfied.
- Around a 6? Hmm… since you are already satisfied, maybe indulging in this meal is not a great idea.
- Check in with yourself throughout the meal to catch your satisfied state. Be careful, this level can be hard to miss for some people.
2. Rule of Three’s: imagine… you’re at Thanksgiving dinner. There is a table full of sides, entrees, desserts,
drinks, etc. just waiting for you to grab. What do you do? Try out the Rule of Three’s. Take note of all the options
and prioritize the three items you must have while bypassing the others. Simply enjoy your three favorites
without the guilt of over-consuming on items you didn’t even want.
3. The Five D’s: a mindful mindset is all about self-awareness around food. Utilize The Five D’s to guide you
towards a mindful choice.
- Delay: wait 10 minutes to help ride the crave wave, your cravings may pass
- Distract: concentrate on something else (like taking a walk, talking to a friend, playing a game, or folding that pile of laundry in the dryer)
- Distance: “out of sight, out of mind”. Extra holiday treats end up at your house? Gift them to a neighbor or take them into work to help put some distance between you and the treats.
- Determine: consider how much you really want the food or beverage in question. Use the hunger scale above to understand if you are actually hungry.
- Decide: if you choose to give-in to your craving, remember to enjoy it! Eat slowly and savor it
4. Plan: good news is many events over the holidays are scheduled in advance so you have time to accommodate any splurges. Work potluck on Friday afternoon – plan for a lighter dinner that evening. Cocktail party Saturday night – use Friday to consume lighter fare like vegetables and lean proteins. Remember, it is all about balance!
5. Meditation: holidays can also be a stressful time for many. Utilize any downtime for self-care by downloading a meditation app, like Headspace.
6. Plate method: think about your plate when selecting meals. Using the following template can help create a balanced plate while still enjoying flavors of the season.
- ½ of the plate from low-calorie, nutrient dense vegetables
- ¼ of the plate from lean proteins
- ¼ of the plate from starches (think the “fun foods”)
7. B.Y.O.D. going to a dinner party this weekend and not sure what will be served? Offer to “Bring Your Own Dish”. That way you know you have a safe option!
8. Try something new: holidays are a great time to experiment with new recipes to satisfy any seasonal cravings. Love apple pie – try baked apples with oatmeal topping. Pumpkin fanatic – try a pumpkin smoothie.
9. Pusher Policy: we all know a friend or relative who shares their love via food and may find it hard if told “oh, no thanks, I’m not that hungry”. Here are a few quick replies that may help you ward off food pushers:
- Wow, that looks amazing. I wish I was hungry so I could eat it.
- I’m not hungry right now, but I would love to take a piece home and try it later. (This way you could share the item with other family members as well)
- I just finished a mint so that might not taste great now.
- Oh, no thank you. I’m here for the people, not the food.
10. Big picture: the holiday season is an 8-week marathon, so do not be discouraged if your weight fluctuates during this time. Think of the holidays as a unit of time from Thanksgiving all the way to the New Year. Don’t let a few over indulgences will not make or break your long-term success.