Holiday Shopping Munchies: How to Eat Mindfully

It’s that time of the year we all love, the holiday season. It can be stressful and overwhelming yet, also enjoyable as we prepare to celebrate with family and friends.

Do packed malls, long lines and last minute holiday preparation and shopping often cause you to grab unhealthy snacks? It can be difficult to eat healthy during the busy holiday season. Yet, in order to keep your energy level up and avoid adding to your waistline during the holidays it’s important to enjoy nutrient-rich snacks. Nutrient-rich foods will provide you with sustained energy and the nutrients your body requires to reduce illness during the cold and flu season.

So, how can you ensure that you remain healthy and keep your waistline in-check this holiday season? Follow these four tips and you’ll be well on your way to celebrating not only the holidays this year but also your health!

1.Pack easily portable, nonperishable and nutrient rich snacks so you never run on empty. Here are five snack suggestions that are easy to carry and quick to prepare.

a. Trail mix. Make your own by combining dried fruit, unsalted or lightly salted nuts and seeds with your favorite whole grain cereal or pretzels. Pack in a single-serving baggie or small reusable container.

b. Cut-up vegetables (baby carrots, celery sticks, sweet bell pepper or cucumber slices, or others) with hummus or a low-fat cheese stick.

c. Easily portable fruit such as an apple, orange or banana with nuts or low-fat cheese.

d. Peanut butter or other nut butter with whole grain crackers. Prepare ahead of time and store in a single-serving baggie or reusable container.

e.Low-fat cheese and whole grain crackers or pretzels.

2.Check in with your body. Eat when you’re physically hungry rather than because food is available and looks tasty. If you weren’t hungry before you passed by the freshly made donuts or pretzels or smelled the tantalizing aroma of chocolate then you’re not truly physically hungry. Know that food tastes better when you’re hungry. If you find it difficult to avoid impulse buying, ask yourself if the food is REALLY worth it? It may taste great going down but how will it make you feel afterwards? Will it give you a stomachache, provide you with energy for only a short amount of time or leave you craving more sweets? Make your decision based on your physical feeling of hunger rather than what your mouth feels like eating. A craving usually lasts for only about 5 minutes. Instead, try chewing gum, drinking water or unsweetened tea or munching on the tasty snack you packed.

3. Does the holiday season make you feel stressed, sad, lonely, or tired? Do you turn to food to soothe yourself? If this sounds like you, make a list of the nonfood activities that you can do to reduce these negative feelings. For instance, if you feel stressed or overwhelmed make a to-do list and prioritize your tasks. Get rid of any responsibilities that are unnecessary and delegate others when appropriate. If you experience the holiday blues try reaching out to family or friends, volunteering, writing holiday cards or making a gift for someone. Most importantly if you experience any of these emotions make time to relax and be physically active. Both are essential for your overall health and well-being.

4. Drink water throughout the day to keep yourself hydrated. Many of us do not drink enough. You may feel hungry when you are actually inadequately hydrated. The best way to determine if you are drinking enough is by the color and volume of your urine. Your urine should be pale yellow or clear and in sufficient quantity (you should be urinating every 2 to 3 hours).

Enjoying healthier foods and drinks is imperative to maintaining your energy level while avoiding those unwanted pounds. Additionally, making time to relax and be physically active. Taking care of yourself during the hectic holiday season is just as important as accomplishing your to-do list. Happy holidays!

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