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Eating “healthy” over the holidays has a different meaning for everyone. Especially this year, as we are navigating new challenges and different gathering scenarios. For some, this might mean avoiding certain temptations that would otherwise leave them not feeling their best. For others, this could mean relaxing on their “rules” for a day in order to minimize stress. Over the holidays, I find it important to shift away from the “all-or-nothing” mentality and find balance where you can.

Do you have certain health goals you are trying to achieve or maintain? Whatever those goals may be, here are some ideas that may help you avoid some unnecessary stress and stay on track the best you can. Read through these tips and choose one, or maybe a few, that resonate with you the most.

1. Practice eating mindfully.

Although you may be preoccupied by a conversation with your loved ones, the holiday décor, or the festive tunes, I encourage you to bring your full, undivided attention to the table. Eat slowly and chew thoroughly. If you find yourself engrossed in conversation, put down your fork, and resume eating once you can focus on your plate again. Savor every single bite of that delicious meal!

This also means listening to your body and paying attention to the cues that you are satisfied with. Avoid eating until you are overfull. The more we slow down and observe the way we feel, the easier this can be.

2. Prioritize real food and nourishment for your body.

Maybe it’s time to convince your family (or yourself) that real food CAN be delicious and satisfying! With many people spending more time in their homes lately, this is the perfect year to skip the boxed/processed options and experiment with some new, fresh ingredients! Are you still looking for that kitchen inspiration? Check out my “Recip E-book” 40 Holiday Sides & Sweets to Promote Balance here. In this recipe collection, you can find ideas for a few classics with a healthy twist as well as some other seasonally delicious options. Don’t worry if you didn’t plan ahead to try them at Thanksgiving, these ideas will also be great for the rest of this holiday season, or whenever!

3. Avoid skipping meals or “saving up calories.”

I don’t recommend cutting out your normal breakfast in anticipation of a big holiday meal. This will set you up to feel ravenous and urge you to eat past your point of fullness. If you want to avoid the belly-ache, the energy slump, or the brain fog induced by overindulging, I encourage you to consume a typical nutrient-dense breakfast or fiber-filled snack prior to your holiday meal or gathering.

4. Give yourself grace.

Enjoy a few of your holiday favorites, but skip the self-induced guilt trip.

If you are doubting your self-control, maybe formulate a game plan in your mind ahead of time. I like to recommend picking 2-3 of your personal holiday favorites that you plan to indulge in, but otherwise, focus on the nutrient-rich options such as your veggies and protein. Eat a little of your favorite treats, really enjoy them, and then move on without being down on yourself.

5. Most importantly, have a plan for AFTER the holiday.

And this doesn’t mean “fixing” your overindulgence or punishing yourself for having another serving of pie. Remember, these special occasions are just a few days on the calendar! The lifestyle we implement the rest of the time, outside this small window, is what really counts!

I have created a resource utilizing the leftover turkey that can help you shift gears or keep you moving along on the right track instantly after Thanksgiving! Check out another e-book I put together: “6 Nourishing Leftover Turkey Recipes.” Download the recipes for FREEhere.

Also, I’d love to connect with you (virtually), and provide you with individualized support throughout the rest of this holiday season!

Join me for a 3-week Healthy for the Holidays Support & Accountability One-on-One Program! I will work with you individually to offer:

Goal setting &health assessment

(3) 30-minute virtual functional nutrition sessions

(3) Customized weekly meal plans

Corresponding recipes & grocery lists for each week

and 10% off PrivaMD Wellness services

Wishing you and your families a happy & healthy holiday season! 🙂

Morgan Cullen is a Functional Nutritionist at PrivaMD. If you or a family member are looking for nutrition advice, contact PrivaMD at 616-213-0253 or connect with us online at www.privaMD.org.