5 Expert Tips to Enjoy Holiday Fare

Read more about these helpful tips to enjoy festive food and maintain healthy eating habits during the holidays


Develop a mantra

Create a statement that empowers you to make healthy choices during times of weakness.  Jennifer Tomko, a clinical psychotherapist at Clarity Health in Jupiter, suggests mantras such as “My choice today creates my tomorrow,” “Food is a fuel, not a reward,” “I can overcome my own impulses,” and “I am stronger than this temptation.” Leave your mantra on sticky notes in places you pass by often, such as on your bathroom mirror or computer monitor.

Create goal reminders

Placing goal reminders in places where you focus your attention can help you stay consistent during the holidays. For example, if one of your goals is not to overindulge so you can maintain your weight through the holidays, you might use a photo of yourself looking fit and toned as your cell phone wallpaper to inspire consistency. “Considering how often we look at our phones, it can serve as a reminder of the ultimate reward for your efforts,” says Tomko.

Eat clean

To avoid weight gain and/or feeling bloated, Dr. Deborah DeMarta—a colorectal surgeon and functional medicine specialist at the Institute of Health & Wellness in Stuart—is keen on avoiding inflammatory foods, many of which are genetically modified and contain artificial dyes, preservatives, or nitrates. “Inflammatory foods cause a leaky gut, weight gain, and cellular dehydration that make us feel tired and dragged down,” notes DeMarta. Instead, move toward gluten-free and dairy-free alternatives. For example, cook with coconut or rice milk to make mashed potatoes. “I use MCT oil as a replacement for butter,” shares DeMarta.

Pay attention to portion distortion

’Tis the season… that many of us forget to follow proper portion control. To ensure you stay on track, DeMarta recommends using the palm of your hand as an indicator of protein size. Keep carbs to half a cup max at a time, and fill up more with fruits and veggies. “I recommend eating lower glycemic fruits like melons and organic berries, rather than higher glycemic foods found in citrus and bananas,” says DeMarta.

Don’t ignore your gut

Paying attention to gut health is also vital during the stressful holiday season. “Stress can cause a permeable gut and decrease our immune system,” says DeMarta. This is why she says it is important to buffer our digestive system with fiber, probiotics, and digestive enzymes and to drink adequate water. “The gut is 80 percent of our immune system, so keeping it healthy helps the body bounce back after a holiday binge,” she says. She suggests taking a fiber supplement, a probiotic, and a good fatty acid daily (but opt only for those that are CGMP-certified, a label given to the quality systems used by the USDA).

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