As the holiday season unfolds, we say hello to limited daylight. We usher in a joyful stretch from Thanksgiving through Valentine's Day, a season that's filled with family gatherings and festive cheer. It's a time when cozy firesides and hearty feasts take center stage, offering us an opportunity to relish delicious meals and celebrate with loved ones.
For many, these celebratory occasions are marked by family meals and parties, providing a fun-filled atmosphere where conversations flow freely. For some, navigating the endless array of delectable dishes, from green beans and salads to the chips, dips, mayo-laden salads, cakes, pies, and more, can be a daunting challenge. But fret not; I'm here to share some straightforward nutrition tips to help you enjoy the holiday season with a clear and content mind, savor the comfort of delightful foods, and continue empower your performance this season.
In a nutshell: RELAX | EAT | HYDRATE
Tip #1: RELAX
Relaxation may sound easier said than done, especially with the irresistible aroma of holiday delights wafting through the air. But finding a moment of serenity, whether by taking a brief respite alone or engaging in lively conversation with others, can help you stay connected with your body and your hunger levels. Cultivating a sense of calm mindfulness before approaching the feast can make a world of difference.
I won't get into too many dirty details but there is a physiologically-based reason for this! Making a connection with your breath and maintaining a calm state invites your body into a 'rest and digest' state. This allows for digestion to proceed as usual and tells your body that now is a great time to access/absorb/metabolize/utilize all the nutrients you'll be consuming.
My top recommendation to enter a state of calm:
Whether you're spiritual or not, a moment's pause before diving into eating can be helpful. This might be a group or solo moment of prayer, three deep breaths on your own, a brief meditation, or anything you find most helpful to connect with your breath, body, and mind.
Tip #2: EAT
Embrace the holiday spirit without setting restrictive labels on your food choices. Categorizing foods as "good" or "bad" can have counterproductive effects, as it often makes the forbidden treats more tempting and can lead to overindulgence or the unpleasant feeling of being 'overly stuffed.' Instead, liberate yourself from these judgments. Food is simply JUST food, after all! Engage the calm mindfulness you've cultivated to fill your plate(s). This approach encourages you to listen to your body's cravings and desires, promoting a balanced holiday feast that will leave you satisfied and filled mind, body, and spirit.
My top recommendations for eating on a holiday:
Food carries no morality. It is simply food. Not good. Not bad. It can be delicious, yummy, crunchy, soft, chewy, or any number of descriptors with no judgement to be found.
Eat as you normally would! Don't skip breakfast, your morning snack(s), or other meals to "save room" or "make room" for your holiday feast. Skipping meals throws off your mind-body connection and can disrupt your hunger levels.
Tip #3: HYDRATE
I'm not saying that staying hydrated will prevent you from eating - that's just silly. Water or consuming other beverages is NOT a substitute for food.
Amidst the chatter, indoor games, and perhaps a few adult beverages, it's easy to forget about the most basic element of our daily nourishment: water. Dehydration can be misinterpreted as hunger, leading to snacking and those unpleasant 'stuffed' feelings when there's a disconnect between your mind and body. Therefore, remember to stay hydrated. A simple trick is to carry a water bottle with you, ensure you drink and refill it a few times during the holiday gathering. If you've left your trusty water bottle at home, no worries—use a cup or glass and refill it a few times to stay adequately hydrated. And remember, water isn't the ONLY thing you can hydrate with!
My top recommendation for staying hydrated:
Drink water and enjoy other beverages throughout the day IN ADDITION to the yummy foods that you love. Nurture your mind + body connection by staying in tune with your body's wants and needs on this food-filled day.
And there you have it, my top tips for enjoying your holiday feasts! Would you like some nutrition coaching support this week and beyond!? Let's set up a time to chat and begin your journey towards empowering nutrition.
Questions, comments, feedback, or advice for others? I'm all ears!