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Five Pitfalls of Bad Eating Habits During the Holidays & How to Avoid Them

by Erin Mahoney, VP Education at International Sports Science Association

The holidays are upon us and with them comes the endless parade of tasty treats and heavy holiday meals which can challenge our will power and our health.

Holiday celebrations often encourage indulgence, overeating, sedentary behavior, and consumption of calorie-rich foods and beverages. In fact, adults in the United States gain an average of two pounds between November and January.

Good habits are essential for maintaining wellness and achieving fitness goals, even during the holiday season. Whether you are working toward a weight loss goal or just want to keep your diet on track, avoiding these five (5) simple pitfalls will help get you through the holidays without busting a button.

1. Eating Too Fast

Slow it down. Whether rushing between activities or trying to multitask, eating too fast isn’t helpful to your health. It can cause as upset stomach, your body won’t be able to accurately register when you’re full, and you may consume more calories than intended. Set aside time for meals and focus on what you’re eating:

  • Pause between bites – take a deep breath, set down utensils, take a sip of water
  • Savor each bite – focus on the smells, flavors, and texture as though tasting fine wine
  • Pace yourself – set a meal timer or pace yourself with the slowest eater at the table

2. Mindless Eating

Just like eating too fast, eating meals while you’re watching TV, wrangling the kids or preparing holiday treats, means you’re not truly focused on what you’re eating. You’ll miss hunger and fullness cues and which leads to overeating. Again, set aside time for meals – even if it’s just one meal a day, it’s a great way to start building healthier eating habits.

3. Not Recognizing Hunger Cues

While many of us may miss these cues because we’re distracted or don’t have time to answer them, some simply don’t understand what their body is trying to tell them. Pay attention to the unique hunger signs your body gives you; these might include a growling stomach, a sense of abdominal emptiness or lightheadedness.

4. Irregular Habits

Occasionally skipping breakfast, ditching your meal plan for fast food, or only making time for a healthy dinner once in a while doesn’t support a balanced diet. Irregular habits can be just as detrimental as bad habits. A planned cheat meal or an occasional ice cream is fine. You’re not going to undo everything with one deviation. But if you’re doing that several times a week it may be affecting long-term goals. Be consistent with your healthy habits to stay on track and hit your goals faster!

5. Emotional Eating

The flood of visiting relatives, a busy house and a to-do list a mile long can overwhelm even the most resilient of people. When stressed, many of us turn to food and calorie-heavy beverages. However, using food to manage your feelings is an unhealthy way to deal with feelings and food. Instead, explore these alternatives to eating:

  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Taking a walk
  • Journaling
  • Talking with a friend

Getting started is always the hardest part, especially if you’re breaking down bad habits. This is true for healthy eating or physical activity. But life isn’t perfect, and it’s important to remember that it is okay to indulge every now and then, just don’t make it a habit.

About Erin Mahoney

Erin Mahoney is the VP Education for ISSA, the leading international fitness certifications provider. As an expert in the fitness and nutrition education space, she has authored and served as the chief editor for textbooks on personal training, sports performance, group fitness, and behavior and lifestyle change. She holds two master’s degrees focusing on sport and exercise psychology along with more than 20 years of experience educating fitness professionals and helping clients get to their goals and lead to an improved quality of life.

About International Sports Sciences Association

The International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) is a global leader and pioneer in the personal training certification industry. For more than 30 years, ISSA has been committed to providing the highest quality certification program by merging the gym experience with practical applied sciences and building trust in order to help people build their goals. To date, we have trained more than 300,000 students and placed personal trainers across 92 countries all while continuing to develop greater access to opportunities that promote a healthier world.

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