Quick Guide: Balanced and Guilt-free Holiday Season

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To diet or not to diet? Modify the Christmas dinner recipes or not? These are questions that arise at this time of the year and that can lead to frustrations, abandoning healthy eating habits, or giving up on healthy eating journeys. What usually spoils the goals at this time is not Christmas Eve or Day, or New Year’s Eve but the whole month of December, with the countless Christmas dinners, received chocolate boxes, and the holiday cakes and sweets that tempt you each way to the supermarket.

pumpkin-cornmeal-porridge
Pumpkin Cornmeal Porridge

What should we do, then?

Well, I would have to give you the most boring but accurate answer of all (I know you hate it, but this is one of, us, dietitians’ favorites): It depends. It depends on your personal journey, on your goals, on your relationship with food, on how easy it is for you to get back to your regular routine and to your healthy habits… So, as I always recommend, if you have any particular condition or goal in mind, the best thing to do is to discuss this matter with your personal dietitian!

❄️ Here are my personal general favorite tips to deal with the holidays in a healthful way:

Tip 1:

The most important thing is NOT to apply the saying “in for a penny, in for a pound”. You should enjoy this season and all the pleasures it has to offer, but it is important to be aware that what must be a time of occasional pleasures should not become a month of continued excesses. Mindfully enjoy dinners with friends and family, making exceptions that are worthy for you, but try to return to your balanced habits the morning after.

Tip 2:

Allow yourself some flexibility and remember that it is not necessary to compensate for any excess with restrictive diets, detox diets, fasting, or strenuous exercise. Simply return to your normal routine. Make a point to eat regular and nutritious meals, so you keep your hunger levels in check allowing you to make the exceptions you wish to make, on your own terms.

Tip 3:

Mind your own plate. I’m being so serious… Please, avoid commenting on what people eat or don’t eat (whatever the motive – health or ethical reasons), even if your intent is good. You probably don’t know about their relationship with food, their struggles, their goals, their needs, their wants… And you most likely won’t know about how those comments can affect them. This is a time of celebration and love spreading… Let’s not spoil this beautiful time with judgments, comparisons, or commentary.

gingerbread-latte

Tip 4:

Food is nourishment, but food is also culture, memories, and identity… So I believe we should fully enjoy the dishes that bring us the best memories during the most important days of the holidays. But if throughout the month you will have endless family or friends’ gatherings, take the opportunity to reinvent holiday recipes, making them more nutritious, filling, and less caloric. It will allow you to put your creativity to test, you’ll eat better all month long and you’ll still enjoy the traditional recipes on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. Seems like a good deal to me!

Tip 5:

Avoid keeping the table set, with all the food and sweets available. As soon as the party is over, distribute the leftovers to family and friends, and keep only one or two plates of sweets on the table. This way you’ll avoid eating just for the sake of the availability of food. Out of sight, out of mind!

Tip 6:

At Christmas dinner and New Year’s Eve, forget about diets and enjoy the best that this season has to offer. Cook traditional recipes as you like and enjoy, but be aware of your body and what it asks of you at all times. Watch out for signs of satiety and avoid eating just for gluttony. Chew thoroughly, smell, taste, and really… enjoy everything you eat. Let yourself enjoy the seasonal products, full of memories, that you love and I promise you everything is going to be ok!

If you would like to know more about healthy, balanced, and mindful eating, I have a video on the channel that might show you some more tips. Here it is:

And if there are some nutrition myths you would like to see debunked, you can find 10 right here:

I hope this post helps you enjoy the holidays to the fullest. I wish you all a happy season. Love, Ana 💛

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