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10 Tips for Enjoying Holiday Meals Without Feeling Bloated and Tired

Do you love the holiday food but regret how you feel after indulging? Follow the tips below so you can feel great after you celebrate!

Do you love your traditional dishes that you eat every year at holiday meals? Do you feel like the holiday would not be the same without Grandma’s sweet potato casserole loaded with brown sugar and pecans on top? And gravy pouring over your mashed potatoes is a must? Do you save room for pumpkin pie or wait a few hours to eat it because you’re too full at the end of the meal? Yup…you’re not alone!

Here are 10 tips to include during your holiday celebrations to enjoy those traditional dishes you love, but not feel bloated and miserable for the rest of the day…

1. Plan a light healthy breakfast on the day of your holiday meal. Don’t skip breakfast because you will likely overeat later. Try one of these:

· Yogurt and fruit

· Oatmeal with fruit mixed in (banana or blueberries are my fav)

· Smoothie made with water or milk (or milk alternative) with a scoop of protein powder, frozen fruit, and 1 Tbsp. ground flaxseed

2. Drink water throughout the day.

· Keep a pitcher of water in the fridge

· Add a few slices of lemon or orange to the water for flavor

3. Drink a festive herbal tea while cooking and prepping.

· Try apple cinnamon or pumpkin spice tea

· Sipping on tea will reduce the urge to open the wine before dinner

4. Serve a veggie tray, hummus, and whole grain (or gluten-free) crackers while prepping and when guests arrive

· Nibbling on healthy, nutrient-dense foods will curb your hunger before the meal

5. Include some healthier side dishes in addition to the traditional ones we love, but tend to be higher in fat and sodium. Try one of these:

· Sauteed fresh green beans in olive oil, fresh garlic, dried basil, and pepper

· Baked sweet potatoes cut into quarters for serving

· Sauteed zucchini, tomatoes, onions in olive oil with herbs

6. Offer whole grain and gluten-free rolls in addition to traditional white rolls

· Whole grain rolls are higher in fiber and nutrients

· Gluten-free rolls will help minimize bloating in those who are gluten-sensitive, or in those who tend to be prone to gas and bloating

7. Place a glass of water at each place setting to encourage hydration in between those sips of wine or cocktails

· Keep alcohol intake to a low to moderate level because it is a gastric irritant at high levels

· Alcohol can stimulate appetite to promote overeating

· Alcohol is a depressant and promotes drowsiness

8. Offer a festive cranberry based salad or dessert

· Cranberries blend with the holiday flavors and add some phytonutrients to the meal

· Strawberries or dried cherries tossed in a spinach salad can also add holiday color to your table and additional phytonutrient punch

9. Plan ahead on portion size.

· Visualize a realistic plate full of food that is not heaping

· Serve yourself a small portion of the foods you love, add in a few healthier alternatives, and leave the ones that are not your favorite

· Think about which foods you could do without (e.g., bread rolls are not that magical to me)

· There may be many food choices, but this does not mean you need to serve yourself all of them. Just pick your favorites.

10. Don’t go back for a second serving

· Research shows that food does not taste better with a second serving

· Enjoy the leftovers the next day

· Remember that your body does not need two plates of food and it will just make you feel miserable later on

Food is certainly a part of holiday celebrations and traditions, but it is not THE celebration alone. Being with family and friends while sharing good food and creating memories is the core of holiday celebrations. Eat healthfully and responsibly and you will be thankful in how your body feels that evening and the next day.

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