WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 27, 2019
The Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays are nearly upon us, bringing promises of good times and good food. The holiday season is usually a time for gatherings with co-workers, friends and family that include plenty of food and drinks. These times can also mean overindulging in some of our favorite comfort foods and desserts. A typical holiday meal can be about 3,000 calories by itself. If we pack on appetizers, desserts and drinks that can add on another 1,500 calories. This combination is more than double a recommended 2,000 daily calorie diet. It’s important not to let the holiday season get the best of us. Following a few simple tips this coming season will help you keep your well-being in check.
If your days are usually hectic, you often may skip breakfast or lunch. However, you’re also setting yourself up for overindulging later in the day or falling prey to snacking on seasonal cookies and candy. Take some time to start your day off with a healthy, balanced breakfast that includes high-fiber foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains and lean proteins like egg whites and turkey. For example, a bowl of steel-cut oatmeal with fresh blueberries and a small portion of turkey bacon can help stave off your hunger and give you long-lasting energy. If you don’t have time to make a healthy breakfast, keep some healthy on-the-go items such as granola bars, Greek yogurt, apples, oranges and low-fat cheese on hand to eat when you can.
This is the season for potlucks, special lunches and bringing in holiday treats to work. If you’re going to be cooking a dish or dessert, try making some healthier changes that cut sodium and calories, but not flavor. Swap out adding salt by including more herbs and spices or use a salt substitute. Cut out the fat in desserts by using applesauce or pureed banana instead of oil and butter. Add natural sweetness instead of relying on large amounts of sugar. The addition of honey, molasses or fresh or unsweetened frozen fruit can do wonders for adding a touch of sweetness to desserts or beverages. Also, try offering healthier options such as a vegetable tray, salad or fruit bowl.
Whether it’s a potluck or your family dinner, keeping a close eye on your portions is a must for the holiday season. Try the Plate Method recommended by the American Diabetes Association. First, don’t pile your portions more than about the thickness of a deck of cards or the palm of your hand. Second, fill half your plate with non-starchy vegetables such as leafy greens, broccoli, tomatoes or green beans. Third, fill a fourth of your plate with grains and starchy vegetables like bread, peas, potatoes or squash. Finally, fill the remainder of your plate with protein such as turkey (without the skin) or lean cuts of beef and pork.
Family and work commitments during the holiday season can put our normal priorities off-balance. Things like exercise and mental health may get pushed to the sidelines. However, it is important that we take time out to care for ourselves whenever possible. Start by being realistic with your time and managing expectations for your family holiday. If you don’t have time to make every single dish from scratch, ask for help. Perhaps, a loved one or family friend could make a few dishes to bring. Or, you can even purchase a cooked turkey and side dishes from your local grocery store or a restaurant. If you are feeling anxious or stressed, take a step back and reflect on the positives of the situation. If your exercise routine has been interrupted, you might try taking a walk during your lunch breaks or after your family holiday meal. It can help burn off calories as well as reduce your stress level.