The holiday season is upon us! For many people, this season can offer some challenges to a healthy lifestyle. Schedules often become crowded and we are bombarded by holiday-themed foods nearly everywhere we turn.
Let’s face it, during the fall and winter season we tend to gather with loved ones and celebrate with food. The pandemic has made the limited and safe social and family gatherings even more of a priority this year. Here are some of our nutrition experts’ favorite tips to support a delicious and joyful season.
- Don’t skip meals to justify over-indulging at a later time. Use snacks to manage your appetite and avoid “saving” up for the big feast. Using healthy snacks around holiday events can help you make better food decisions.
- Stay hydrated. In general, staying hydrated is always a good idea! You can avoid overeating and that “too stuffed to move” sensation by making sure you have something to sip on during your meal. This can slow your pace and help with satiety (feeling full). Keep an eye on calorie-dense beverages such as holiday cocktails, hot chocolate and egg nog. No need to avoid these delicious beverages all together, just be mindful of what, and how much you are drinking.
- Mindful eating. The holidays are a wonderful time to step back and reflect on fond memories, loved ones, and consider what you are grateful for. In fact, thinking about what we are most thankful for has been demonstrated to be one of the most impactful things you can do to improve health and quality of life. Believe it or not, this concept can be applied to our food as well. Simply being mindful of our food choices can make a positive impact on what we choose and ultimately our health.
- Lifestyle eating. We often look at holidays and vacations as times where we get to “cheat” on our diet. This might mean we break the normal, healthy routine we usually follow. Sometimes the desire to “cheat” can shed light on the unrealistic nature of the “rules” we have set for ourselves. When we have chosen an eating pattern that supports our lifestyle, there is no need to “cheat” or break “rules.” We allow ourselves to eat in a way that supports a healthy lifestyle. This means foods you love can be included in balanced moderation.
- Don’t forget the vegetables! Try prioritizing vegetables this holiday season. From roasted brussels sprouts to your uncle’s famous green bean casserole, try filling half your plate with non-starchy vegetables. Extra points for leafy greens!
- Get moving! Plan to make time for some physical activity. Get your friends and family to accompany you on a holiday stroll. A bit of exercise is a great way to foster relationships, improve your health and maintain brain function.
- Enjoy! Holiday time is meant for us to enjoy ourselves, friends and family. Although it’s important to be mindful of your food choices, don’t be so hard on yourself. At the end of the day, just focus on moderation and prioritizing your favorites. Reducing stress is just as important as the foods we eat. So get out there and have a great holiday!
- Food substitutions and adjustments. The Lifestyle Medicine team of dietitians put together some helpful food substitutions and adjustments for you to consider during this holiday season.
|Butter||Applesauce, fruit puree or switch to olive or avocado oil|
|Cheese||Reduced fat cheese|
|Cream cheese||1/3 less fat cream cheese|
|Whole milk||Reduced fat milk|
|Whipping cream||Fat-free whipped topping|
|Egg||2 egg whites or egg substitute|
|Cream||Buttermilk, 2% milk or coconut milk|
|Sour cream||Plain Greek yogurt or fat-free sour cream|
|Salt||Consider reducing salt and using more fresh herbs and spices to add flavor|
The Lifestyle Medicine team at Valley specializes in helping people prevent, treat and even reverse disease by replacing unhealthy behaviors with healthy ones. Learn more about Lifestyle Medicine, its programs and services at valleymed.org/fitness.