Wait...what?? Did I read that right? The holiday season is typically seen as a threat to our healthy eating routines, with plenty of parties, tempting treats, and indulgent foods. While what we eat does matter, how we eat is just as important—and when it comes to the holidays, there are actually many behaviors we get right that should be embraced, celebrated, and carried into the new year.
Cooking dinner. Most of us have at least one family recipe that gets us into the kitchen during the holidays, and it often involves cooking in a way that we rarely do the rest of the year. Keep the habit up after the holidays; research shows that people who cook for themselves consume less salt and sugar, and more nutrient-rich foods than those who don’t. Start by cooking one more dinner per week than you currently do, and add more as it becomes your new normal.
Eating from a plate. Raise your hand if you often eat straight from the take-out container, fridge, or bag of munchies! While you don’t have to continue using the good china after the holidays, a plate is a great portioning tool, allowing you to visualize how much you serve yourself and evaluate how hungry you are. Conversely, eating directly from the take-out container or bag encourages mindless eating.
Taking a seat at the table...with people. Around the holidays, we sit down at the table with family and friends, but during the rest of the year, life’s business often makes it too easy to eat on the go, or alone, with our smartphone or computer as our dining companion. While doing so can be tempting, studies show that distracted eating often leads to overeating. Being present at meal time supports eating mindfully. Moreover, doing so with friends or family builds relationships and reminds us of a final great holiday sentiment—appreciating what’s most important.