Preparing for Healthy Holidays
by Stephanie Bouquet, MS, RD | December 7th, 2016
During the holiday season, the weeks seem to move at a heightened pace. I find normal efforts to stay healthy (by eating wholesome foods and being physically active) can take a backseat. To prevent this from happening in the upcoming months, here are a few helpful thoughts to keep in mind:
Prepare for Success:
We’ve all heard the old adage, “Failing to plan is planning to fail” and those words don’t ring more true than during the final months of the year. Since time is limited, it’s important to think and plan ahead to prevent less than optimal food choices. The biggest mistake made is to sway from normal eating patterns in anticipation of upcoming social eating events. Although the intention is to “save up” calories, this strategy backfires more times than not as the body hasn’t eaten enough, which leads to later over consumption. Keep eating times the same and don’t skip meals. Think about having a snack about an hour before an event to make sure the tummy is not growling and healthier choices will ensue. Snacks should be full of fiber (found in very high amounts in raw, fresh vegetables) to keep hunger at bay. It’s very convenient (and delicious) to utilize Josie’s new packaged chopped salads as an instant and portable nosh.
Take time to actually eat foods. That sounds silly, but the more nutrition we take in through liquid means (think coffee drinks, fruit smoothies or alcoholic beverages), the less satisfied our bodies will be. The act of chewing foods works favorably on promoting physical, as well as psychological, fullness. Just think about which breakfast would keep your tummy satisfied longer – eggs scrambled with a handful of rainbow chard and green onion or a sugary cup of coffee?
Eat the Best
Each holiday brings its share of special and traditional foods. Whether it’s grandma’s special stuffing or a plate of gooey fudge brought into the office, it’s important to not deny yourself of these pleasures. True healthy eating involves pinpointing what you enjoy, savoring good flavors and leaving behind other options. I have found some fantastic alternatives for holiday foods that I now prefer. For example, Josie’s Celery Gruyère Gratin Lite is a fantastic addition to a main meal, but it can also serve as a balanced weeknight dinner I can prepare in advance or within minutes after a hectic day. Concentrate on the motto, “eat the best” and you will be able to leave the rest!
Making good food choices is very important during these busy times, but don’t discount the benefits of physical activity. Regular, consistent exercise produces a positive immune response in the body, meaning it helps fight off possible illness and elevates moods (meaning it fights off holiday stress). Carve out time daily, even if it is only for a few minutes, to take a walk around the block to clear the mind and rejuvenate the body. You will find your productivity will improve in all aspects of your day.
Take time to care for YOU during the holidays so you can enjoy the true meaning of the season.