With social gatherings slowly making their way back, enjoy holiday foods without that added guilt.
‘Tis the season to be merry and bright, to give kindness and love, to spend time with family and friends and, most of all, to eat great food. With our increased participation in these plentiful meals, never-ending buffets, dessert swaps and those infamous posadas (holiday parties), how do we keep health in mind this holiday season?
Here are five tips to keep you (and your guests) healthy this holiday season:
- Incorporate fruits and vegetables. Just because it’s the holidays doesn’t mean that nutrition goes out the window. There are many ways to include the recommended five servings per day of fruits and vegetables. If you are planning a gathering or attending one, fruits can be easily included in your traditional recipes. Pineapple or orange slices can serve as either a topping or as a garnish. Baked apple or pear slices can be used as stuffing for meat dishes. Cranberry, blueberry or strawberry sauce can add flavor and texture to any dish. Vegetables can be easily incorporated by adding a salad or a pureed vegetable soup as a starter dish. You can’t go wrong with a warm bowl of butternut or winter squash soup.
- Pay attend to portion size. With social gatherings slowly making their way back, enjoy holiday foods without that added guilt. Here are some ways to keep track of your food intake. Follow the recommended serving sizes: 1-2 cups for fresh vegetables (that’s half of your plate), ½ cup for cooked starches (rice, pastas, and starchy vegetables, such as potatoes, peas and beans), 3 ounces for proteins (that’s the size of the palm of your hand) and 1 teaspoon for fats (oil, butter, margarine, or mayonnaise). Other techniques include using smaller plates and serving scoops, avoiding food heaping and skipping seconds.
- Remember to exercise. Even though your calendar is full, maintaining regular exercise will keep you healthy this holiday. The recommended physical activity is 150 minutes per week. And while there are many challenges to squeezing in time to exercise, there are also many opportunities. Take advantage of the many holiday related exercise activities. Holiday lights and décor create an enjoyable scenery for evening walks or jogs. The need for holiday shopping, including multiple trips to the grocery store, will help you accumulate more steps (if you have a pedometer, the goal is 10,000 steps/week), especially if you park the farthest away from the store. Ice skating, sledding, skiing and even building a snowman adds to the long list of exercise activities for you to choose from.
- Keep to your meal routine. Many believe that skipping a meal (or two) will save calories for the holiday event. However, by skipping a meal you will be more likely to overeat in addition to not being in your best mood, “hangry,” in other words. Avoid this by having a healthy snack (fiber, protein and unsaturated fat) before attending your holiday party. This will keep you from overindulging and help you be at your best.
- Cut back on the bubbly. Oftentimes, liquid calories are overlooked. Yet, one serving of alcohol equals 100-150 calories. This does not include those splendid sugary and high calorie festive drinks. Additionally, research has shown that alcohol increases your appetite and limits your food control. Drinking 8 fluid ounces of water before each alcohol beverage, practicing moderation by drinking slowly and setting a limit, and focusing on family and friends can limit your intake of alcohol.
Follow these key steps to help you be your healthiest self during this season. Happy holidays!