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Strategies for a Healthy Holiday Season

Traci Wilson Traci Wilson December 21, 2017 0 Comments General Health

Keeping Healthy During The Holidays

Thanksgiving is over but we are now in the midst of MORE holiday gatherings, lots of great food, and often an overabundance of delicious treats. Temptations are tested and any attempt to "diet" is often crushed. I prefer to not use the word "diet", or any other words often associated with dieting such as "detox", "clean eating" or "low carb". The more we hear and/or use these words, the more we start to believe that our self-worth is defined by our food choices.

I believe the key to developing a sustainable, healthy eating pattern is through balance and healthy choices, along with a big dose of optimism. We can choose to make healthy choices most of the time, choose to not feel guilty about enjoying the foods we love and grew up with, and choose to try new, updated versions of traditional holiday foods. Furthermore, there are benefits and many nutrient-rich foods that we eat during the holidays. Foods like turkey, potatoes (white and sweet), green beans, cranberries and pumpkin are all nutrient-=rich foods with a variety of vitamins and minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. This is the optimistic side of our favorite foods. We can still enjoy these delicious, healthy foods in moderation by lightening up our recipes or trying a few healthy swaps (Try this Health Holiday Swaps Challenge or these Healthy Baking Ingredients to learn more).

So, what about strategies to consider when we are the GUEST? We may not always have full control of the menu at our holiday parties or gatherings, but we do have the power to make choices. Listed are a few tips to help you keep your healthy eating pattern on track.

  1. Eat a healthy snack including fruits and vegetables before you go. Skipping a meal(s) to "save up" for the gathering is a big mistake. Arriving hungry will make it harder to make better choices.
  2. Sip water (or another calorie-free drink). Drink a glass of water between alcoholic drinks, as well as before and after eating. It will keep you hydrated and help prevent mindless eating and over-drinking. And limit yourself to one indulgent beverage. One alcoholic drink, eggnog, punch and other favorites can add many extra calories to your day. An 8-oz. glass of eggnog will add almost 350 calories and a whopping 19 grams of fat!
  3. Seek out healthy options. Assess what foods are available. Whether it's a sit-down dinner or cocktail party, choose your favorites and make your own plate or ask for what you want. Also, fill half your plate with veggies and other lower calorie options first.
  4. Be mindful. Savor the foods you truly enjoy, and pass up on those that don't really interest you. take your time, eat slowly, and focus on socializing rather than guarding the food table.
  5. Ask to bring a dish. When appropriate, offer to bring a dish. That way you know that there will be something there for you to snack on.

If you choose not to lighten up your traditional holiday recipes and fare, don't feel guilty! Choose moderation instead, stay optimistic and get back on track the next day. You cannot change yesterday, but you can change today.

Healthy Choices + Moderation + Optimism = A Healthy Lifestyle