The holidays are notorious for excessive and unhealthy eating. The traditional claim of gaining “five to 10 pounds” during the holiday season may be exaggerated.
Nevertheless, it’s common to gain a pound or more, which can have significant long-term side effects. In addition, for the millions of Americans managing gastrointestinal conditions, eating excessive holiday junk food can leave their GI tracts in turmoil for weeks on end.
Rather than waiting until those New Year’s resolutions kick in, here are a few ways you can proactively make healthier eating choices this holiday season.
The best way to curb that appetite is to think ahead. If you’re like most people, you’ll socialize often and pay countless visits to various friends and family during November and December.
During that time, you’ll often have food offered to you that isn’t available throughout most of the year. Rather than make choices about what to eat on the fly, take some time to slow down and think things through before you go to an event. Put yourself in the right mindset to make thoughtful, informed decisions.
It’s common to skip meals in preparation for a food-focused holiday event. However, unless you have impressive self-control, it’s advisable not to “save up calories” before arriving at a party.
Experts claim this can lead to both overindulging, as well as a negative impact on your cognition and emotions. Don’t skip meals as an excuse to binge. It’ll backfire.
One of the biggest dangers that come with holiday food is the inability to know what ingredients are in each dish. Often, people bring food from their homes without the original packaging. Both pre-packaged and homemade dishes can also contain secret ingredients like fructose, lactose, starch, or histamine.
Digestive enzymes are a great way to support a digestive system that is struggling with a food intolerance or IBS. They help break down any unexpected or unwanted ingredients. Intoleran’s quatrase 10,000 is a particularly effective and comprehensive digestive support tool that can keep your GI tract humming throughout the holidays.
Portion control is a powerful way to reduce your overall food intake. This can put less stress on your digestive system over the holiday season.
There are many ways to maintain reasonable portions. For example, you can use smaller cups and plates. Ask for half portions as a general rule. Drink water before eating. Eat slowly. You get the idea.
This one’s a bit trickier to do when eating out of the house. However, if you invest a little research and effort, it’s possible to maintain at least reasonably balanced meals over the holidays.
Remember your macros as a good initial goal. That means striving to eat a mix of carbs, healthy fats, and protein. Find a good eating cheat sheet to help you balance your plate, too.
Finally, try to stay on a routine. Yes, holiday events will disrupt this often, but that makes a healthy rhythm that much more important when you aren’t celebrating the season.
Along with making balanced food choices, make sure you’re getting plenty of high-quality sleep (at least seven hours per night when possible). Exercise consistently, too. This can help your body stay in good working order in between events.
The holidays are filled with unique and fun food choices. It’s perfectly fine to indulge in these from time to time, too. However, you don’t want the occasional cheat to turn into an avalanche of unrestricted binging.
Use the tips above to help you manage your meals, stay balanced, and avoid upsetting your stomach as you navigate each holiday buffet, meal, and snack in the weeks ahead.