As the holidays approach, we tend to spend more time with family and friends. Holiday gatherings can create inconsistencies in our diet, causing fatigue, sleep disturbances and the dreaded weight gain. Whether hosting a gathering, eating lunch out with friends or attending a party, there are ways to avoid holiday pitfalls.
Think clean: Fill your shopping cart with the colors of the season. Winter vegetables like sweet potatoes and winter squash are abundant and reasonably priced. Peeled and roasted with a little bit of olive oil and sea salt makes a flavorful and healthy side dish. Green is always good! Fresh green beans and broccoli only need to be steamed until tender crisp. Winter salads are always in season. Toss spring greens or spinach with your favorite vegetables and a healthy vinaigrette. Avoid buying pre-made salads, processed meals and salad dressings. They contain sodium and preservatives.
Keep it Lean: Forgo the ham this year. Its higher in fat and sodium than roast turkey or chicken. Look for all natural birds that that have not been injected with salt and/or nitrite solutions. If you love beef, now is the perfect time to splurge on a lean grass fed beef tenderloin.
It’s ok to dip and dunk: Well a little- If hosting, replace the mayonnaise and cream cheese in dips with lower fat versions or replacing it altogether with plain nonfat greek yogurt and add a colorful variety of raw vegetables to make a healthy crudite platter.
Eating on the run: Lunch out with friends can be full of obstacles. Protein helps keep us full and focused. Always have a portable snack handy like raw unsalted almonds, sliced apple and/or individual wrapped string cheese. When eating in restaurants, look for lighter, heart healthy options. Don’t be afraid to ask for sauces and dressings on the side; replace sides of pasta and rice with steamed vegetable options.
Water: The human body is 50-65% water so we need LOTS of it! We have to have a minimal amount to survive, but how much is enough? A general rule is the 8×8 rule: 8 – 8 ounce glasses of water daily. Every cell, every organ system needs water to function which includes transporting and metabolizing the carbohydrates and proteins from the food we eat into the bloodstream for fuel.
Exercise: It’s always important, but sometimes gets forgotten during the holidays. Everything counts; raking the leaves, walking the dog, climbing the stairs, shoveling the snow or participating in your favorite sport…take the time, as little as 20-30 minutes each day and reap the benefits of an active lifestyle.
It’s easier than it looks to get through the holiday season: Make healthy food choices, eat throughout the day, hydrate and take that walk after dinner or play a little football with the kids. Enjoy and savor every minute with friends and family. So eat, drink and be merry and as always, be healthy.