"Healthy Holidays" seems a little like an oxymoron, doesn't it? With all of the cookies, cakes and breads, chocolates and candies, eggnog, cocktails and so much more, the last thing we consider our eating is healthy.
The New Year is right around the corner, and that's the time to set resolutions. But what if we were to tell you "Healthy Holidays" doesn't have to mean missing out on all of your favorites? What if someone who has studied nutrition and dietetics could give you a few tips on your holiday eating? Pullman Regional Hospital Dietician Sophia Dunlap, did just that. Below she shares some tips and tricks for eating healthy during the holidays. Enjoy!
1. Enjoy what's not available year-round.
One of the aspects that makes holidays so special is traditional treats, like mom's peppermint shortbread cookies or your best friend's 5-cheese dip. But what about snacks that are always available, like Lay's potato chips? Whether it's a work or family party, opt for the annual treat instead of something you can get any time of year. That chocolate chip cookie with lunch may be tempting, but your friend's amazing brownies will be at her party that night.
2. You won't see big changes in your weight.
On average, individuals only gain one pound of body fat during the holidays, though we may feel it's more. Increased sugar and salt intake make our bodies hold onto water, making it seem like we've put on pounds. Limit snacking on treats during the day to prevent adding sugar or salt to reduce bloating.
3. Don't skip regular meals.
We often fear eating too much on a day when there will be an event. This leads to increased hunger and overconsumption later. Eat a balanced breakfast with carbs, protein, and fiber, such as an English muffin with egg, avocado, and a side of berries. If your holiday party is around dinner, eat your regular lunch as well. This will prevent the urge to overeat later on.
4. Don't fear sugar.
Think of how many times you eat in a week. An average of three meals and one snack per day means 28 eating opportunities every seven days. Snacking on a sugary treat 1-2 times is not going to make a significant impact on your weight or undo any progress you've made toward your health goals!
5. You can control portions.
Looking to control portions, even at a party? Consider using an appetizer plate instead of a dinner plate to limit the number of your favorite treats. This way, you can be mindful of calories without restricting your favorite party foods.
6. Add protein for a balanced, filling snack.
A brownie or cookie may be an exciting mid-day snack, but it can often cause a crash later on and even increase our hunger. Adding a protein, such as cheese or nuts, can help increase fullness until our next meal and control blood sugars, limiting the chances of crashing and overeating later on.
7. Not all drinks are created equal.
A delicious holiday cocktail is on the list of items you look forward to in December, but don't let it get in the way of regular hydration. Increasing fluid intake can actually decrease the amount of fluid and bloating in our bodies by eliminating excess salt and sugar that water is attracted to. So if you're going for that sparkly cranberry martini, follow it up with a chaser of water.
8. Bring the healthy option yourself.
Most holiday parties aren't low on foods high in sugar, fat, and salt, but they can be low on fiber. Fiber helps keep us full and prevent overeating. Bring your own vegetable or fruit side dish to a work or other holiday gathering, jazz up the vegetables with festive ingredients, like cranberries, hazelnuts, and squash, and opt for a high-protein yogurt dip with fruit.