I know what you're probably thinking - "ugh, the unavoidable 'just eat in moderation' holiday dietitian post" (insert eye roll). Well, this may be a little of that (sorry, can't help it), but I'm hoping it still also encourages fun and freedom in food this season. I'm a full believer that the holidays should be enjoyed and traditions should be celebrated, both food and non-food traditions alike. However, I've also worked with enough people who come to me after the holidays saying, "oh my goodness, what did I do?! " So much of what they worked for during the entire year was "undone" in one season. My thoughts are that there has to be a happy medium - a place where food (or some might say the guilt around food) doesn't consume our thoughts, a place that allows us to enjoy the season and all that it brings, and, yet, a place that doesn't majorly move the needle on our health and wellness. This is the sweet spot where I aim to live during this season and that's where I try to help clients live as well.
In the spirit of finding and living in this sweet spot, I'm sharing my Top 10 Tips that I try to incorporate into my holiday lifestyle. Whether you follow them all or you choose to simply follow one, my hope is that they help you have a happy, healthy, and guilt-free holiday season.
[ANYTHING PARTICULAR YOU WANT TO SEE IN THE RECIPES I CREATE OR INFORMATION I SHARE THIS SEASON OR IN 2018?? PLEASE MESSAGE ME SO I CAN GET CREATIVE AND WORK THEM IN!]
TOP 10 FOOD & NUTRITION TIPS FOR A FUN & FUELING HOLDAY
LOCK AWAY THE GUILT. Before you can move on to any of the other tips, make sure you get this tip down. Enjoy those foods that only come around once a year. Enjoy the Christmas or Hanukkah cookies that have become a family tradition, the stuffing that your aunt makes every Thanksgiving, and those little red and green m&m's that are suddenly in every glass bowl you pass. If you decide to partake, please enjoy it and savor it - no looking back! Well, unless, of course, it's to think about how deliciously wonderful it was :)
UNLOCK YOUR TENNIS SHOES. Same goes for your jacket, your gloves, and your warm hat. Don't let the cold weather keep you from moving. Stay active but don't hold yourself to a strict program like you may have done outside of this bustling holiday season. In other words, give yourself a little break. These weeks and months can be stressful and packed enough as they are without that added pressure of bumping up your workouts and logging all of the gym time! Try planning active get-togethers with friends and other families as a way to stay active but still stay social. Staying active is proven to help manage stress and improve mood, so try to keep it as a weekly priority as the calendar gets booked and stress levels start to rise.
KEEP YOUR DAYS BALANCED. If you know you're going to a party that night that will have lots of deliciously rich foods, get your veggies, fruits and lean proteins at your other meals that day.
NO SKIPPING MEALS. Don't skip meals during the day to "balance out" the party that night. Most likely you will overeat at the party and may end up consuming more that day than if you had gone ahead and eaten breakfast and lunch!
PLAN, THEN ACT. Assess the spread and all that is offered. Decide what you REALLY want and add that to your plate vs. the items you sort of want or know you can get at the next gathering. Once you know what you want, then start making your selections.
PLATE, DON'T GRAZE. By putting food on a plate and then eating, you know how much you have had and you can keep portions in check. Grazing at parties is sort of like eating out of the jumbo chip bag when you get home from work ravenous. There is no "stop" signal in place...until you're at the very bottom of the bag.
DON'T FORGET YOUR VEGGIES. I say this because, yes, having veggies on your plate will help add fluid and fiber, which will help keep you full and help keep the calories in check, but I also say this because fall veggies (and fruits) are wonderful! And there is this small window in which we can savor them. Please don't forget these. Try something new or try an old favorite in a new recipe. Challenge yourself to include veggies in at least 2 of your meals a day this season. Not sure what to pick in the fall and winter months? Check out my FOODS OF FALL blog post from last year for ideas and inspiration.
LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT. There are so many sweets and treats and rich foods during this season. However, do you really really love all of them? Pick what you love, or, if you are cooking, cook what you love, and leave the other decadent items to someone else.
BRING STRATEGICALLY. Not sure what kind of options will be offered at the party? Make your dish something you know you will eat. Be in charge of a hearty salad, the veggie side dish, a crudite appetizer, or a charcuterie platter filled with fresh winter fruits and nuts along with unique cheeses and meats.
GET CREATIVE WITH DESSERTS. Think outside the box when it comes to desserts. The holidays can be filled with rich decadent desserts, but have you tried warm baked apples or spiced pears with ice cream, homemade whipped cream or chocolate drizzles and toasted hazelnuts? These can still taste deliciously decadent while still packing in some mood and immune boosting antioxidants!