Kick-start a Healthier New Year with These Tips for Holiday Eating

Kick-start a Healthier New Year with These Tips for Holiday Eating

by Dr. Krishanga on Dec 29 2022 1:50 PM
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  • Keeping your seasonal eating healthy also involves adopting portion management, regardless of your holiday selections
  • It’s unavoidable to not serve the holiday special menu along with the traditional sweets and treats at family events, but focus on fruits, vegetables, legumes, and nuts as well //
  • Be a health-conscious host and serve the food in the best interest of your guests
The holiday season, from Thanksgiving through New Year’s, maybe a nightmare for your best efforts to manage what you eat and keep active. And with all of the festive delights available throughout the holidays, as well as the stress that comes with the season, most individuals wait until January to begin eating healthier. However, other experts believe that now is the best time to start new healthy behaviors.

Tips for Healthy Holiday Eating Habits

“The dietary modifications you make now can help you manage stress and avoid overindulging in holiday fare,” Teresa Fung, a registered dietitian at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, advises. “In addition, by eating healthier, you can start the new year with momentum and motivation.” Here are some tips for healthy holiday eating.

Focus on Portion Control and Mindful Eating

People frequently overeat during the holidays due to the abundance of tempting foods and greater servings – think family feasts and party spreads. “This is a fantastic opportunity to practice portion management,” says Fung. For example, if three different cakes are available at the party and you enjoy them all, have a modest slice of each. “This way, you may enjoy a variety of things without going overboard,” Fung explains.

Eating at large gatherings also provides an opportunity to practice mindful eating, which can help reduce overeating. “Pay attention to eating carefully and savoring the flavors, and pause to converse and socialize,” Fung advises. “The slower pace allows your body to perceive what you’ve eaten and alert the brain that you’re full, making you less prone to overeat.”

Lean in to Fruits and Veggies

Make plant-based foods a top priority when planning your Christmas menu. The Mediterranean and MIND (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) diets, for example, emphasize eating fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, as well as employing healthy oils. These diets are high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, which aid in blood pressure control and weight maintenance (both welcomed gifts during the holidays).

“The holidays are a good time to start transitioning to a plant-based diet because you are cooking more than usual and frequently need fresh food ideas,” adds Fung. Here are some simple strategies to start eating more plant-based foods.

Consume more salads. Because they can be made in big quantities, they are ideal for holiday celebrations and family meals. “Another way is to include a side salad with at least one per meal,” Fung suggests.

It’s fine to serve traditional fare and even desserts at holiday gatherings, but emphasize fruits, vegetables, legumes, and nuts.

Salad can be served as a first meal to help fill you up before the heavier courses arrive. Go heavy on greens, colored veggies, and healthy oils, and low on croutons; add color, crunch, and more nutrients with bits of (peeled) apples or pears. (For Thanksgiving, skip the bacon bits and replace them with dried cranberries and sunflower seeds in your salad).

Make veggie side dishes or at least the main course’s co-star. Try a vegetable-based soup course, such as one made with seasonal squash, and enjoy each (modest) taste and grin as the flavors bring back festive memories. Eat more fruits and vegetables.

It’s fine to serve traditional fare and even desserts at holiday gatherings, but emphasize fruits, vegetables, legumes, and nuts.

Make This a Vegetarian day

Go vegetarian for the entire day once a week, eating just fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. “This can help you realize the types and amounts of things you need to eat without feeling obligated to do it all the time,” Fung explains. As you gain confidence, try two days each week. Consider certain meals or foods for various days of the week, such as Whole-Grain Wednesdays and Stir-Fry Fridays.

“There are many spice blends available that incorporate a variety of spices and may be used on a wide range of meals, from poultry to soups to side dishes,” Fung explains. Even better, try making your spice blend. “You don’t have to know what you’re doing; just try it and appreciate your work,” Fung explains.

Calories and ‘Cheer’-Drink in Moderation to Keep Those Extra Calories Away

According to one report, the average adult consumes three alcoholic beverages each day during the holidays. A new study also reveals that even one drink per day may increase a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease. Then there are the extra calories to think about. Calories per serving might vary depending on the type of beverage (beer, wine, spirits) and the amount.

Then there are the extra calories to think about. Calories per serving can range from 120 to more than 200 depending on the type of beverage (beer, wine, or spirits) and the volume.

Fung proposes switching to sparkling water or a cocktail comprised of one-third fruit juice and two-thirds sparkling water after one or two drinks if you prefer raising a glass of joyful cheer. “This can assist discourage you from drinking excessively and show you that you can enjoy social settings without alcohol even after the holidays are past,” she says.

Strategic Holiday Thinking

Be Selective

Take your time. You are not required to attempt everything. Take a look at everything and zero in on what you genuinely enjoy or what brings back wonderful memories for you. To control portion sizes, use a small plate or cocktail napkin.

Plan it out

Make a Plan for how much you want to eat each day and stick to it. To assist resist temptation, keep beloved goods out of sight. Consider the distribution of some of the holiday goods to relatives or neighbors, particularly those who are unable to connect with others this year, or freezing excesses.

Savor the flavors

Enjoy the flavors. Allow yourself to enjoy the pleasures of the holiday season. Enjoy each (small) taste and grin as the flavors evoke memories of holidays past and create positive thoughts for holidays to come.

The busy holiday season from Thanksgiving to New Year’s, combined with the coming of winter weather in much of the country, can derail your best-laid efforts to keep physically active. In a sedentary season, this can result in a double punch of additional calories.

Hence, this is a roundup of tips you can follow to stay away from gaining those extra calories this holiday season.