Healthy Holiday Eating

It’s that time of year again:  the time of year when we start digging through our closets for those turkey/cookie/cake-eating pants. You know… the ones with the extra give in the waist?  They won’t give us the painful reminder that we’ve eaten too much.

Research shows that the average American gains between 1-3 pounds during the holiday season. During the holidays, we tend to eat more refined and salted foods, which make our bodies retain water. Even though water retention may not be permanent weight gain, it still means a tighter fit for our pants.

It’s clear that weight gain is a problem during the holiday season.  We should be concerned, though, about the quality of the food we eat, not just the quantity.  How can you Candy or Cauliflower-make appropriate food choices at your office party or family gathering?

Plan Ahead

Even though this month is busy, just a little forethought into healthy holiday eating can go a long way. If you will be attending a party, try to eat a healthy meal before you get there.  What are good choices?

  • Healthy fats:  Those found in raw nuts and seeds are satisfying.
  • Fiber:  The fiber content in whole fruits like apples will tide you over.
  • Lean protein:  Chicken or turkey breast in small quantities will prevent dips in blood sugar.

By filling up on healthy snacks, you will likely have the willpower to retract your hand from the plate of chocolate-covered treats or bacon-wrapped appetizers.

Try to not be too rigid though. If you know that you have five parties this month, allow yourself the freedom to splurge a little; just not at every party. Choose the party where there will be a treat that you really love and allow yourself to enjoy it.

If you are going to a pot luck style party, bring a healthy dish.  You’ll know that if there are limited options, you can enjoy your dish, guilt free. Need some ideas?  Try this healthy variation of deviled eggs. Shrimp cocktail is also an excellent low calorie appetizer that can be filling.

Don’t Drop Good Habits

One of the most effective ways to ensure healthy holiday eating is to eat healthy year-round. It may take several weeks of eliminating refined foods from your diet before the cravings go away. However, many have found that once the cravings are gone, refined, sugary foods actually taste horrible! Many marketed foods contain chemicals our bodies cannot process; however, they are covered in sugar to tempt the taste buds.  Once the body is unaccustomed to eating those toxins and chemicals the taste buds can reset and start to really enjoy wholesome foods.

Why not set a goal to to eliminate refined and sugary foods from your diet?  You may only be able to go one day at first, but keep trying and build up good habits. Next time, go for three days, then a week, then a month… you get the idea. Next holiday season you will find yourself not wanting the unhealthy foods that have tempted you in the past.

Let’s make healthier goals:  instead of depriving ourselves of foods for just a few weeks out of the year, let’s eat healthy and feel better all year long!

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