Moderation: The Key to Having a Happy (and Healthy) Holiday Season

November 30, 2015
group of friends eats outside

Picture this: You’re at a holiday party and the table is set. Your mouth is already watering from smelling the mashed sweet potatoes, honey baked ham, roasted turkey with gravy, pumpkin pie, and sugar cookies. As your stomach grumbles you start thinking about all the calories and fat content. You start worrying about this so much that you begin to dread seeing the pie before the whipped cream even hits it. Suddenly, you’re feeling stressed. You can already feel the guilt weighing on you for everything you’re about to eat. Sound familiar?

The holidays can sometimes mean that our health (and diets) go out the window until the New Year’s resolutions kick in. Being healthy doesn’t mean you can’t have a slice of grandma’s famous pumpkin pie or enjoy your favorite holiday cookies. This time of year is about celebration, which is why it’s mostly focused around food and eating. We don’t need to abstain from enjoying the foods we love, just moderate.

Here are our tips for staying healthy with moderation this holiday season:

  1. Think like the French!
    In a series of cross-cultural surveys, when Americans were shown a picture of chocolate cake and asked what word they associated with it, the most frequent answers were ‘guilt’ and ‘calories’. The French response was ‘celebration’ and ‘pleasure’. It’s not that the French feel the need to eat the entire cake, but they associate it with something very different than Americans do – and we can take a cue from them here! So enjoy that slice of cake, and take pleasure in it. You don’t have to eat the entire thing.
  2. Follow the 80/20 rule.
    If 80% of the time you work hard to eat whole foods that are minimally processed and packed full of nutrition – then the other 20% off the time, you should allow yourself to indulge a little. Good health is all about balance, not depriving yourself of the enjoyment of having the foods you crave! Allowing yourself to enjoy those foods during that 20% will allow you to make smart choices the remaining 80% off the time (instead of indulging all the time).
  3. Limit (or go without) alcoholic drinks.
    On average, most adults consume an additional 100 calories per day from alcoholic beverages. Even if you can’t avoid the cocktails all together, alternate between alcohol and a non-alcoholic sparkling True Lemon Mocktail to reduce your calorie intake. Even better, if you decide to stay sober it’ll be easier to avoid over-indulging during dinner. Also having a sparkling drink will keep you feeling festive without getting a holiday hangover.
  4. Eat only things you LOVE, and leave the stuff you just like.
    Instead of piling your plate high with the food that you love, in addition to the food you’re not-so-excited about, why not just eat the ones you love? You eliminate the extra calories of food that doesn’t make you excited (yes, we’re talking about the fruit cake), and truly enjoying the foods you already know and love.
  5. Keep moving!
    Part of the reason why people gain weight during the holidays is because there’s a lot of sitting around indoors with nothing better to do than constantly graze. Make an effort to add some exercise into the holidays to avoid snacking all day long! Go for a walk while things are simmering, play a game of catch, or even sneak in a quick game of charades. This will also keep you from being tempted to nap after eating, and expend those calories! Here are some more great tips, along with some additional advice with how to stay healthy this season.
  6. Just because it’s “holiday food” doesn’t mean you have to eat it!
    This is certainly the time of year for seasonal dishes, but have you really thought about if you really like those foods? Do you truly enjoy spiced eggnog, or would you rather enjoy something lighter – like a cup of hot apple cider with True Lemon? If you could have any treat at all, would you rather have a slice of store-bought apple pie with whipped cream, or just one scoop of your favorite vanilla ice cream? Thinking about these things first rather than eating “just because” will help you to make better (and healthier) choices.
  7. Sneak in more veggies.
    Vegetables contain a lot of nutrition, and a lot of fiber. Getting in as much as you can will help maximize the nutrient value of your meal, while at the same time helping you feel more satisfied. The added fiber will also keep things moving through your system! Add pureed cauliflower into the mashed potatoes, and maybe even some fresh green peas. Don’t be stingy with your portion of salad, either.
  8. Use the three-bite dessert rule.
    The rule is this: the first bite is best, and so is the last. Every bite in between is pretty much the same! If you stick to the three-bite rule, you can focus on the full dessert experience and truly savor it. Therefore you’ll be much less likely to overindulge. Try this True Lemon Pumpkin Roll recipe, or this Maple-Pecan Apple and Cherry Crumble recipe. Just remember – keep your serving to 3 bites!
  9. Eat a good breakfast!
    Skipping a healthy breakfast will only leave you starving, and more tempted to over eat. Start your morning with a nutrient-rich and filling breakfast so that you don’t go crazy later in the day.

Always remember that this time of year is about celebration, not guilt! Keeping this in mind and following these steps will help you not only stay healthy, but also help you enjoy this wonderful time of year even more.

Another one of the best ways to spice up your holidays is with True Citrus! Check out our array of seasonings and spices to add even more flavor to your holiday menu. Here is a collection of warming fall drink recipes to share with your guests during the holiday season too!

[Credit: Anderson, Charlotte. “The One Thing Top Nutrition Experts Do to Stay Healthy During the Holidays.” Greatist.]
[Credit: DellaCroce, Liz. “Living by the 80/20 Rule (Finding Balance Challenge and Giveaway).” The Lemon Bowl.]
[Credit: Le Billon, Karen, “French Kids Don’t Get Fat.” Karen Le Billon Blog.]

Tags: fitness, health tips, holiday, food