The Barcelona Nutritionist’s Simple Strategies for Staying Healthy during the Holidays
Use the 80/20 rule to help to you stop feeling guilty. Focus on trying to eat healthfully 80% of the time and then allow yourself to enjoy holiday treats 20% of the time.
Enjoy holiday food and traditions. Invite your partner, children, or guests to help prepare meals, challenging each other to experiment with new recipes or healthy substitutions.
Mindful eating. Don’t eat in front of a screen, while driving, or when you are distracted. Savor the taste, texture, and smell of holiday foods. When at a party or dinner, put down your fork or tapas until you have finished your conversation and in between each bite.
Don’t skip meals, especially breakfast. Choose lean protein (fish, poultry, eggs, filling fiber (beans or whole grains) and healthy fats (olive oil, nuts) for meals and snacks to stabilize blood sugar levels. For example, starting your day with a nutrient-dense bowl of quinoa fruit salad or whole-wheat toast with a fried egg and mashed avocado will keep you feeling fuller longer.
Eat the rainbow. Make sure you nourish your body with necessary minerals, vitamins, and nutrients. Winter vegetables (think brussels sprouts, kale, sweet potato, beets, and carrots) are low-fat and deliciously crispy when roasted or grilled in the oven. Try to fill the majority of your plate with vegetables or salad, leaving only a little room for smaller portions of meat and sides.
Plan ahead. Pack your own snacks and have a healthy snack before going to a party. Always keep a small bag of nuts, dried fruit, or rice cakes in your bag and at work. Avoid processed foods, pre-cooked meals, or anything pre-packaged to steer clear of excess salt, sugar and various additives. When visiting someone else’s home offer to bring a healthy addition, such as vegetables or a salad.
Stay hydrated. Consuming excess alcohol at social events or coffee to power us through long days and late nights, leaves us thirsty. We often confuse thirst for hunger, so try drinking more water before reaching for that pan dulce. Some people even use colored rubber bands on their water bottle or special apps on their phones to remind them to regularly refill their water bottles.
Take care of your mind and your body. Use exercise to help manage both stress and weight gain. Plan specific times to exercise and put them on your agenda to prioritize self-care. If you have over-indulged, make a conscious effort in the next week to take the stairs, cycle to work, or take the dog for an extra walk. Staying physically active throughout the day aids digestion, helps shed extra calories, lifts your mood, alleviates boredom, and makes you stronger and healthier.
For more strategies for living healthy or if you want a personalized plan for staying healthy during the holiday months, Turo Park Medical’s English-speaking nutritionist in Barcelona is available for nutritional consultations, lifestyle coaching, and individualized eating plans.