Healthy eating can get SO confusing! Especially during the winter and holiday season when it’s so tempting to just let yourself go.
I, for one, am a HUGE fan of the holidays, especially Thanksgiving! However, I didn’t always look forward to Thanksgiving like I do now. This holiday used to give me extreme anxiety because I was confused about what to eat so I could still meet my health goals. I would worry and stress for days about what I should eat on the day of to stay on track. I spent so much time thinking about and even fearing the food part of the day, I completely missed what the holiday was really about.
A few years ago I decided enough was enough! I wanted to trade my stress over festive meals for feelings of ease and joy during holiday gatherings instead.
I ended up devising 5 simple rules to guide my eating during the holidays, and I had so much success that I now use these rules on a daily basis so I can feel less worried and anxious about my food choices.
Here are the rules:
1: EAT REAL FOODS – You don’t have to eat less, you just have to eat right!
Remove processed, packaged and fried foods. Real foods are foods without labels. If you are filling your plate with label-less food, then you don’t need to worry as much about portion sizes. Your body is better able to detect fullness when you’re eating real foods. Take a stand for removing processed, packaged, and fried foods from your diet. During the holidays, be mindful of dishes made with packaged foods like cheese. The more you can avoid these types of foods, the better you’ll feel.
2: Eat Clean & GREEN! Fill 50-75% of your plate with colorful non-starchy vegetables.
One of the easiest ways to stay on track with food is to focus on filling your plate with veggies. One of my favorite things to do for Thanksgiving or any other shared meal is to bring a salad (like this) or roasted veggies (have you had brussel sprouts with bacon before?!) as a side. I end up having a healthy dish I can count on and the rest of the party gets to eat healthier too!
3: Avoid foods high in sugar and refined carbs. Try to stick to low-glycemic eats whenever possible.
The thing with sugar and refined carbs is they cause blood sugar spikes and dips which put you on an energy roller coaster. Not only that, but high carb foods can cause cravings too! No bueno. When in doubt on what to put on your plate, go for fewer carbs. You can even look up the glycemic index of foods really quickly on this site if you’re not sure.
4: Eat 4-6 oz of healthy lean protein at every meal. Every 3-4 hours is a good benchmark to follow to stay satiated and not reach for those sugary goods.
When filling your plate, aim for 4-6oz of lean protein. A piece of meat the size of your hand is usually 4-6oz. Also, eating every 3-4 hours will help you stay satiated and keep your blood sugar consistent. When your blood sugar drops, you body will naturally crave a hit of sugar and we want to avoid that!
5: Fill up on fiber. Aim for minimum 30-40g a day.
The average American is only getting about 15g a day, which is well below what she should be. Fiber performs many functions in the body like supporting digestion and liver detoxification, so it’s crucial for keeping your body running smoothly.
High Fiber foods to try: lentils, beans, rolled oats, nuts, fruits and veggies.
If you notice any foods that make you feel lethargic or cause digestive issues – avoid them! NO, you should NOT be having stomach aches every time after you eat. Eating should be enjoyable!! Not painful! The goal is to figure out what works for you.
Typical Allergenic Foods: Dairy, gluten, nuts
Now, starting new habits can take time, so be kind to yourself as you implement these rules.
In fact, I recommend you only focus on adopting ONE of these rules right now, and focus on making it your default for at least 2 weeks before you add another one in.
Which rule are you going to implement first? Comment below to let me know!
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: SIERRA’S HEALTHY THANKSGIVING GUIDE!