Healthy Tahoe: Tips for a healthier holiday season
It’s common to indulge during the holidays, especially with added festivities, family visits, and increased stress. Overindulgence is often followed by restrictive dieting and feeling the need to burn extra calories at the gym. This can be harmful to your health in a number of ways, including the risk of lowering your metabolism, as well as potential negative impact on your mental health and overall relationship with food.
If this cycle sounds familiar, you are not alone. The good news is, there are ways to overcome this pattern. It is even possible to enjoy your favorite holiday foods and keep up with your health goals by trying a few of the following tips:
Avoid skipping meals. Avoid giving into thoughts such as, “I will just skip breakfast or lunch today since I am going to have a big meal later.” Stick to your regularly scheduled meal times to avoid binging at parties or family gatherings.
Watch your portions. If your favorite holiday food is high in added sugars, saturated fats, or calories, enjoy it in smaller portions while pairing it with plenty of delicious holiday vegetables and protein to help fill you up.
It is ok to turn down food. It isn’t rude to say no to food when offered, especially when it is not your holiday craving. There are other ways to show gratitude during the holidays that do not involve indulging in your Aunt’s “famous fruit cake,” or whatever not-so-favorite food that’s frequently gifted in your circle.
Watch the label. When cooking with canned goods, look for the low-sodium option, and choose canned fruits packed in juice instead of syrup.
Make smart substitutes. When preparing your favorite dishes, opt for nonfat plain Greek yogurt over sour cream, and swap some (or all) of the white flour for whole-wheat or other whole grain flour. Butter can be substituted with a vegetable-based fat when cooking, and use applesauce or ripe bananas in its place when you are baking.
Last but not least, remember that denying yourself a food group never works and usually end up increasing the likelihood of binge-eating foods in that group.
Overall, try to focus on portion control and balance your plate — incorporating foods from all food groups — in order to stay on track with your health goals this holiday season!
Ariel Rearick is a registered dietitian with Barton Nutrition, specializing in nutrition therapy, which can be helpful for many medical conditions including diabetes. Barton Dietitians are available for consultation by calling 530-543-5824.
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