As the height of the holiday season approaches, it’s time to plan for holiday parties full of decadent and calorie-packed food and drinks. The abundance of hearty meals and classic holiday treats makes it difficult to stick to health goals. Consider some healthy eating tips, provided by Maria Nicholson, a registered dietitian at St. Mary Medical Center, to help you manage your goals during holiday parties while still enjoying the delicious foods you love.
Make your plate colorful: A colorful plate means you are eating a variety of food groups. Your plate should consist of half non-starchy vegetables, one-fourth grains and one-fourth lean sources of protein.
Consider healthy alternatives to classic dishes: Adding healthy substitutions to your favorite meals can go a long way. For example, making a heart healthy green bean casserole with fresh green beans, almond slices, onions and low-fat milk instead of canned green beans, butter, cream and fried onions to reduce the fat content of the meal.
Slow down and savor your food: Take time to fully enjoy your food when you are eating. Eat slowly and savor each bite while paying attention to your hunger signals. It takes 20 minutes for the stomach to signal to the brain you are full. When we have our favorite foods on our plates, we tend to eat quickly and overeat as a result. Slow down and spend 20 to 30 minutes eating your meal.
Manage your portions: A serving size of meat should be 3 ounces, or about the size of a deck of cards or the palm of your hand. Using a smaller plate can help with putting less food on your plate and gaining proper portion control. Start by filling your plate with vegetables and salad before eating the main entree and dessert.
Drink in moderation: Alcohol dehydrates the body. Drink water instead to stay hydrated and fill your stomach, making you feel full earlier. If you choose to drink, women should have no more than one drink per day, and men should have no more than two drinks per day.
Be creative with exercise: Colder weather brings challenges to exercise routines, making it necessary to get creative. Try to work in at least 30 minutes of exercise each day. Consider taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking further away while holiday shopping or going for a walk with your family after eating. Many communities also host fun, holiday 5K runs or 1-mile walks you can join with your loved ones.
This year, have a plan before attending holiday parties and family gatherings. Actively thinking about your eating habits will help you better manage your health goals during the holidays.