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By: Lauren Sharifi, RD LDN | SENS Solution® Health Coach

Despite all of the positive and happy occasions that fall this time of year, we are often made to feel guilty and confused when it comes to eating food around the holidays.  By focusing more on enjoying time with our families and taking a moment to listen to our bodies, we can embrace the holidays without the guilt!

Here are seven eating habits to help.

  1. Allow yourself to eat foods you truly enjoy. When you label a snack as “off limits,” your natural tendency is to want it more, crave it and end up over-consuming that food. Instead, by allowing yourself to enjoy your favorite holiday foods you immediately take away the enticement of the food. Just knowing that you can eat these foods will cause you to crave them less and eat less too!

2. Lap the Buffet: When you arrive at a party, take a quick survey of offerings.   Ask other guests which dishes they loved so you know how you are spending your calories.

3. Make sure to eat regular meals and snacks during the day. This includes making time for a meal in the morning, midday and in the evening, plus a couple of snacks in between meals. A rule of thumb is to eat every three to five hours during the day. This will ensure your body is getting the fuel and nutrients that it needs to function. “Saving up” for that holiday party will leave you unsatisfied during the day, and more likely to overeat and feel uncomfortable.

4. Drink first: Staying hydrated will help you think clearly and keep your energy up. Thirst is often confused for hunger, so drink plenty of water before eating.  If you are indulging in an alcoholic beverage, pair it with a glass of water. This will help with the dehydrating effects of alcohol.

5. Listen to your fullness cues and stop when you are satisfied. When you are out at a holiday gathering, check-in with yourself every so often and see if you are full or satisfied. Understanding this will prevent you from mindlessly eating, which can lead to overeating.

6. Keep balance in mind. When planning meals or picking out foods, keep balance in mind. Try to encourage a source of carbohydrate like bread, potatoes, or pasta; a protein like chicken, beef or beans/legume; a fat like olive oil, or avocado; and some produce like fruits and/or vegetables. This combination will help to fill you up, keep you satisfied and provide your body with a variety of the nutrients it needs. Having balance at meals also helps prevent you from getting cravings for foods later on.

7. Take time for other “self-care” activities. Self-care includes activities like sleep, exercise, spending time with family and friends, meditating or getting a massage. Any activity that helps you relieve stress will help regulate your hunger and satiety hormones so you can best understand how much nourishment your body needs.