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Top 5 Foods to Avoid During Holiday Season

With the holiday season upon us, it’s time to eat, eat, and eat some more. During the holiday season, it’s common to get together with your closest friends and family for gatherings and parties. Not only is food a focal point of these meetings, but it is also one of the greatest sources of temptation.

Most adults worry about gaining weight during the holiday season. Holidays may encourage overeating, sedentary behavior, and an increase in calorie intake. It is possible, however, to avoid holiday seaosn weight gain. Instead of obsessing over calorie counting, it is possible to be aware that some healthy-looking meals are surprisingly unhealthy.

Here are the Top 5 Foods to Avoid During the Holidays Season.

1. Eggnog

The classic Christmas drink is an extremely calorie-dense beverage. With sugar, eggs, and whipped cream combined, this drink comes to a massive 342 calories and nearly an entire day’s sugar intake.

Despite the difficulty of changing much about this drink, there are ways to make it healthier. It may be better to use almond milk or yogurt instead of cream or to add vanilla extract, nutmeg, or cinnamon to half of the sugar content, which will enhance sweetness without using much sugar.

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2. Fruit Cake

As its name suggests, fruitcake might appear healthy, but this isn’t necessarily the case. Fruit cake is typically high in fat and calories due to its high butter, sugar, and syrup content. It’s the same for Panettone – an Italian bread becoming increasingly popular during the holidays.

Make your own fruit cake this year by substituting Greek yogurt for butter – it will drastically cut calories and fat.

3. Gravy

While gravy is a natural accompaniment to our holiday meals, we never consider how unhealthy it is when we examine its ingredients. White flour, cornstarch, or fat drippings are often used to thicken homemade gravy, adding carbohydrates and sugar to the recipe, whereas white flour and cornstarch add substantial amounts of sodium and fat.

Consider making the gravy from scratch using a stock cube, which adds flavour to the recipe without adding fat, and substituting white flour for wholewheat flour, which is a lower carbohydrate option.

4. Cranberry Sauce

While cranberries are known for their health benefits, they are not naturally sweet, so cranberry sauce contains a great deal of sugar. An average serving of canned cranberry sauce contains 105 grams of sugar, which adds 400 calories to your daily intake.

If you want to avoid sacrificing this important addition to your turkey, try making your own cranberry sauce using frozen or fresh fruit with less sugar.

5. Pecan Pie

Pie made with pecans and sugary pie crust contains approximately 37 grams of fat and is especially unhealthy since pecans contain lots of calories.

While pecan pies make a great holiday dessert, pumpkin pie is a much healthier alternative as it has significantly fewer carbs, fats and calories.

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Practicing mindful eating during the holiday season can gradually but surely lead to a better relationship with food, despite many experts’ advice against setting lofty goals.

Why should we practice mindful eating during the Holiday Season?

The practice of mindful eating encourages you to pay attention to the sensory experience of eating, notice hunger and fullness cues, and be in touch with the feelings you associate with particular foods. By doing so, you can establish a healthier relationship with food.

The practice of mindfulness has been found to be effective at limiting harmful eating habits and fostering a healthier lifestyle. Researchers found that mindfulness practice improved physical activity among study participants in a systematic review and meta-analysis published in Obesity Research & Clinical Practice in September-October 20171.

Moreover, in another study published in March 2018 in Current Obesity Reports, the vast majority of people practicing mindful eating did not gain the weight they lost over time, as is usually the case with other weight loss methods2.

Several reasons have been suggested for this, including that mindful eating helps people become aware of their bodies’ fullness and hunger cues, and reduces the likelihood of them eating habitually or emotionally.

Tips for Eating Mindfully and Staying Healthy during the Holiday Season

1. Discover healthy alternatives to your favorite dishes

Lucky for you if your favourite dishes didn’t appear in our list of Top 5 foods to avoid! In spite of that, plenty of other holiday foods still contain extra sugar, fat, and carbohydrates. It doesn’t mean you have to give up your holiday favorites – just make a few modifications. You can reduce the amount of butter and bacon in green bean casserole or even bake the turkey instead of deep-frying it. Keep your favourites on your plate without adding all the extra calories with these simple tricks.

2. Moderation is the key

The key to surviving the holiday season is moderation. While there’s nothing wrong with enjoying an indulgent, festive dinner, you should make sure you maintain a healthy, nutrient-dense diet around it.

Choose a light lunch such as a salad with olive oil dressing for lunch and a healthy breakfast such as avocado on whole wheat toast for breakfast the next day. Healthy eating during the holidays allows you to enjoy some big events without overloading with calories.

3. Opt for Homemade instead of Processed Foods

The challenge of making everything at home can be daunting when you’ve got a lot going on, but it’s also a great way to eat healthier. Making your own dishes will save you from eating canned and processed foods, which are full of salt and sugar. By making your own food, you will also gain an increased awareness of what you are eating and when allowing you to take control over your health.

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4. Slow down during meals

A key tip for staying healthy over the holidays is to slow down during mealtime. Decadent food might make us crave food, but slowing down during mealtime is a good way to avoid overeating. Multiple studies have shown that eating slowly gives our stomachs enough time to send hormonal signals to our brains to let us know we’re full, which will prevent us from accidentally overeating. By doing so, we can better control our portions.

5. Keep portion control in mind

Have smaller meals before your holiday dinners and eat small snacks during the day. By doing this, you’ll improve your digestion and eat less during and after meals. Using smaller plates or serving fewer dishes is a good way to reduce portions if you are concerned about portion control.

Tips for Eating Mindfully and Staying Healthy during the Holiday Season

It can be difficult to eat well and stay healthy during the holiday season, but it’s not impossible. Keeping your physical and mental health in check with some of these tips will help you start the year off right.