Have a Healthy Holiday Season!
The holiday season is here! It’s a special time of the year when we visit with family and friends, and gather around the table for traditional meals. In many homes, the holiday meals are larger, we eat for longer than usual, and meals are served at odd hours. If you have any chronic conditions like high cholesterol, high blood pressure or diabetes or even if you’re just watching your weight, it can be hard to watch what you eat without losing the holiday spirit.
Here are some suggestions for staying on track during the holidays:
Don’t fast before the feast. Your holiday meal may not be during your regular meal schedule. Have a small, low-calorie snack before your holiday meal. This will help you to avoid overeating later on.
Watch the carbs. Tis the season for carbohydrates of all kinds – mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, bread rolls – and you may be tempted to try them all. To keep your blood sugar in check, take just one or two bites of each. Or pick one favorite, and limit yourself to one serving, which is one quarter of your plate. If you’re thinking of having a slice of pie, skip the potatoes and bread.
Keep it lean. Choose lean proteins, like turkey, roast beef, chicken without the skin, or fish. Lean protein has less saturated fat than red meat. How it’s made matters too. Gravy and sauces can have a lot more sodium than you should have in a day. Grilling, braising or roasting meats or fish brings out their natural flavors, so your taste buds won’t miss the salt.
Balance your plate. Fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables – they’re low in calories, but high in fiber, so they’ll help you to feel full without overeating. Remember that adding butter, cream or gravy to vegetable dishes can pack on the calories. Choose raw, grilled or steamed vegetables, instead.
Don’t drink your calories. Even though it doesn’t make you feel as full as eating alcohol can also pack in the calories. That is before you add in mixers like soda, juice or other sugary mixes that add even more calories. So pace yourself and sip on a calorie-free, non-alcoholic beverages like sparkling water between bites.
Be a Healthy Holiday Host. Give your guests some healthy options for each course. Prepare a side dish of steamed vegetables with seasoning or a colorful salad. Offer fresh fruit when you serve dessert.
Did you know that it takes at least 20 minutes for your brain to realize that you’re full? If you already had a first serving, take a break before reaching for seconds. You might be full and not realize it yet.
Here are some ideas from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) about how to eat healthy during the holidays.