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Enjoying The Holiday

Natural Times, November/December 2019

...without falling face-first off the healthy eating wagon

By Christine J White, New Leaf’s Nutrition Expert, Certified Nutrition and Fitness Coach

 

Let’s be honest, it’s a challenge to eat healthy any time of year…never mind around the holidays. Office parties, friends’ gatherings, the big family feasts, candy and baked goods around every corner…yikes!

This is true, but there are lots of small steps we can take to make it easier to stick to a healthier eating regimen despite temptations galore. Here are 10 (plus a bonus) for you to try this holiday season:

  1. Bring on the veggies! Literally…YOU be the one who brings a healthy side of veggies to the holiday potluck or gathering. Most potluck spreads are chock full of starchy, cheesy, sugary options, with nary a colorful veggie in sight. If you bring a delicious veggie dish that you love, you know you’ll get at least one good serving to help fill you up!
  2. Eat those veggies first. You brought ‘em, now you gotta eat ‘em! With their higher fiber and nutrient content, they’ll help fill you up before your willpower hits rock bottom and has you shoveling down all the high-calorie, low-nutrient carbs in sight.
  3. Savor every bite. Take time to enjoy whichever foods you do choose to put on your plate and chew them slowly. Mindfully even. If you can sit while you eat (rather than hovering around the buffet or potluck spread), even better. Your brain will have time to receive the signals that your body is satisfied, your belly is full, and you’re no longer hungry.
  4. Ask yourself if you’re still enjoying what you’re eating. Back to mindfulness, if you’re just eating because it’s on your plate, you’re distracted, or everyone else is eating, you might be “wasting” calories on stuff you don’t really even enjoy. Better to save every bite for what you love.
  5. Don’t skip meals on these special days. Just because you know you’ll be having a large feast for dinner doesn’t mean you should try to “save up” your calories for the day by skipping breakfast or lunch. If you go into that big meal starving, you’re much more likely to overeat and to eat the least healthy options on the table.
  6. Eat what you love (within reason). This means don’t eat the green bean casserole just because it’s a tradition. Eat the foods you love the most, with an emphasis on the healthier options for the majority of your choices.
  7. Go easy on the alcohol. If you choose to drink alcoholic beverages at a party or gathering, drink in moderation and alternate with plenty of water. And skip those sugary, high-calorie mixers or sodas by opting for pure seltzer water instead.
  8. Avoid the post-feast food coma. Plopping down in front of the TV or napping after a big meal is a common way to sabotage your healthy goals. Instead, go for a walk, do the dishes (by hand), or play in the yard with the kids. Moderate activity after a meal helps stabilize blood sugar levels and aids digestion.
  9. Make physical activity a priority. This is NOT the day to skip the gym, decline your friend’s invitation for a bike ride, or cancel on your golf buddy. Sticking to your fitness routine, or even amping it up, will make you feel so much better and hopefully more likely to make healthier food choices.
  10. Enjoy dessert…mindfully. Go for it. Fully depriving yourself will likely lead to binging on other unhealthy options anyway. So indulge a little, but savor every bite. Maybe even bring a “healthier” dessert that you love (to go with those veggies!), so you’ll have an option to enjoy with less guilt.
  11. Speaking of guilt…lose it, and get back on your game. If you do eat less healthy than you planned, don't beat yourself up. Just don't let a slip become a fall (face-first off the wagon being dragged behind it!). If you go overboard, don't get stuck in a food rut. And get back to your healthy eating habits as soon as possible.


And now for that yummy veggie side dish that’ll be the surprising star of the potluck or family feast! Here’s a fun and simple recipe that can be served either hot or cold, and is bursting with holiday flavors.
 

Recipe Alert! Try this Butternut Squash with Roasted Brussels Sprout, Pecans & Cranberries recipe as a snack or side while you keep healthy this holiday season!

 

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