Clean Eating Tips for the Holiday Season
Maintaining a clean eating regimen over the holiday season can feel akin to climbing a mountain. With so many seasonal delicacies around, how can we be expected to abstain? Well, even in a year like 2020 when a lot of our holiday celebrations will look very different and pared-down from other years, there are certain things we can do to stay on track while still indulging in some of our favorite treats.
But first, while these tips are great no matter what your eating habits look like, let’s take a look at some of the core clean eating principles:
What are the core ideas behind clean eating?
Clean eating is when you choose whole, unprocessed foods over heavily-manufactured options. While the style of eating in no way implies that not following this regimen to the letter is “unclean”, it’s simply used as a guide to make whole foods a priority. Think a lot of fruits and vegetables, legumes, plant-based protein (and animal-based, if you so choose), and nuts.
Of course, it’s impossible to consume completely unrefined and unprocessed foods (unless you’re entirely committed to the lifestyle), so the extent that this is followed is, of course, up to the consumer. There is no shame in what is such a personal thing!
That said, if you’re looking to stick to a mostly-clean-eating regimen over the holidays, then read on for a few tips on how to do it!
Tip #1 – Start Each Meal with Vegetables
My first tip to help you clean eat over the holidays is to start each meal with a course of vegetables. Whether this is a simple salad or fancy veggie dish you created, starting your meal with whole vegetables will help you feel fuller faster and ensure that you get a ton of vitamins and nutrients before you continue on with your meal.
Tip #2 – Contribute a Healthy Dish
While the holiday season in 2020 is sure to look a lot different in the ways we come together for food, if you do find yourself (safely and responsibly) visiting family and friends, then consider making your potluck dish healthy.
There’s nothing in the rulebook that says holiday dishes have to be processed, so bringing a potluck dish that abides by your regimen will give you a great option when it comes time to eat.
Tip #3 – Savor Seasonal Treats
While this may not fit into everybody’s regimen, if you do plan on indulging in treats this holiday season, then I recommend doing so mindfully.
Savoring your food and treats will make each bite so much more enjoyable and memorable. If you find yourself prone to mindlessly eating, then taking the time to notice every bite of your food may go a long way in keeping you on track.
Tip #4 – Check-In With Your Body
Speaking of mindlessly eating, if you find yourself overdoing it on the treats this year, ask yourself how your body is feeling. Is your body hungry and craving certain vitamins? Is your body full and no longer requiring food? Are you still enjoying the food that you’re putting into your body?
Asking yourself these questions while you go about your holidays will keep you in tune with your body and help you make the choices that are right for you.
Tip #5 – Plan Your Meals
There is nothing that says you can’t go into the holiday season without a meal plan. If you find yourself unsure about how you’re going to balance clean eating habits with the free-for-all environment that this time of year tends to bring, then plan it out! Choose recipes that you feel good about, and even schedule in some treats to give yourself leeway.
Remember, there is no “right” and “wrong” when it comes to how you eat, it just comes down to preference and how you feel. Just because you have some treats doesn’t mean you’re “off the wagon”, and just because you plan your meals doesn’t mean you can’t account for some processed foods.
Tip #6 – Manage Your Stress Levels
With all the unprecedented events of the last couple of years, taking care of our bodies and minds with stress-relieving practices is crucial. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say this, but I for one tend to reach for the junk food when I’m feeling stressed, and, unsurprisingly, that stresses me out even more.
The holiday season tends to bring about its own particular brand of stress for so many people, and whether or not you’re able to visit your family and friends, this year will be no different. So, as we mention so often on The Wellness Project, make a point to adopt some healthy stress-fighting practices to help you stay calm and centered.
Here are some great tips to help you manage stress, any time of year.
Tip #7 – Keep it Interesting
If you find that your clean-eating schedule is looking a little too bland going into the holidays, then switch it up! Just because you’re sticking to certain eating habits doesn’t mean that you can’t experiment and make special dishes.
These five flavorsome fall vegetables will be sure to give your recipes some festive flair and give you a ton of great nutrients in the process.
Tip #8 – Don’t Drink Your Calories
A tip that’s found in almost every eating guide available, abstaining from drinking your calories is a habit that proves helpful time and time again!
Over the holidays, drinks tend to be aplenty, whether that’s alcohol, eggnog, or juice, and it can be easy to overdo it on the calories and sugar when we mindlessly drink these things. The thing with high-calorie, high-sugar drinks, however, is that they’re rarely satisfying. Instead, stick to water as your main source of hydration, and opt for fiber-rich foods that will help satiate and help you stay fuller longer.
That’s it for my tips on how to eat clean over the holidays! Of course, I highly recommend taking these tips and adapting them however you like — everybody and every body is different, and you should never feel shame or guilt in choosing a lifestyle that suits you best. We at The Wellness Project wish you a safe, happy, and healthy holiday season, and be sure to leave any questions in the comments!