The season for holiday get-togethers is upon us. When it comes to food-focused
gatherings, we understand the challenges: unhealthy food options, overeating,
overindulging, and maybe even feeling sick and stressed after.
Let the excitement of the holidays remind you why you’re choosing
to make healthy choices this year: you want to
Making just a few simple choices before, during, and after your holiday
meals and festivities will help you feel happy and healthy as you celebrate
with family and friends. From simple food swaps to moderating meals and
choosing to drink water, you can make this year the healthiest to-date.
Moderation at Mealtime
Eating in moderation is not always easy, especially when there’s
a buffet filled with yummy options to try. But it
is possible to eat well during the holidays. With balance and moderation,
you can celebrate the holidays the healthy way – while still savoring
your favorites. The key is to pay attention to your portions, fill up
on healthy options of fruits and vegetables, and create a balanced plate.
Remember, small choices add up!
Personalize Your Plate
When there’s a buffet full of food, it can be easy to take a scoop
from every single dish. Try checking out all of the options first, and
then only taking a sample of the foods that look most appealing. That
way, you can trim the portions on your plate and still enjoy a variety
of options, and you won’t be deprived of all your favorites. For
example, if there are three kinds of pie for dessert, pick the one that
looks the best and slice yourself a small serving.
Remember to savor each bite. Take your time to enjoy the food that you
and your family and friends have lovingly prepared. Skip dishes you’re
not crazy about that pack in the extra sugar and calories, like sweet
potato casserole made with lots of brown sugar and marshmallows. If that
makes your mouth water, enjoy it in very small portions – and again,
don’t forget to savor each bite.
Limit Fats, Salts, and Sugary Foods
If your family likes to serve traditional foods on holidays, there are
loads of recipes that are just as delicious, but without all the extra
butter, extra salt, or added sugar. Consider signing up to bring a healthy
dish or two using delicious, nutritious vegetables as the main ingredients.
There are many fantastic recipes where veggies are the star of the show
and will leave folks feeling satisfied and guilt-free.
Try one of these healthy holiday food swaps, like replacing sweet potato casserole for baked sweet potatoes or swapping
out sour cream for Greek yogurt.
Choose Fresh Fruit Over Candy
Get your sweets fix in a healthy way, by choosing fresh fruit instead of
processed, sugary snacks like candy or fudge. Try serving a fruit tray
with grapes, apples, or strawberries full of vitamins and sweetness, without
the extra refined sugars. Kids will love these options, too!
Incorporate Healthy Desserts
Desserts don’t have to be loaded with refined sugar or extra fats
to be delicious. There are several healthy substitutions for sweeteners
that satisfy the sweet tooth and provide extra nutrients, too. Consider
recipes that use dried dates instead of refined sugar or applesauce instead
of vegetable oil. Enjoy the sweetness without the regretful stomachache
or weight gain.
Skip the Sauces or Bring Your Own
It’s surprising how quickly the calories can add up. If your aunt
is always in charge of the salad, but brings it covered in ranch dressing,
consider bringing a second salad this year, full of fresh vegetables and
served with a simple vinaigrette or extra virgin olive oil on the side.
Rethink Your Drink
Skipping the soda, sweet tea, or eggnog and drinking water instead can
save you hundreds of calories and up to 50g of sugar per 16-ounce serving.
Sugary drinks work against hydration and add excess calories. Swapping
even one sugary beverage for water will help keep you on track and feeling
good, plus help you to
stay hydrated. It aids in digestion, prevents constipation, cushions joints, stabilizes
the heartbeat, and protects vital organs and tissues.
Drinking water gradually throughout the day is a simple way to stay alert
and avoid the afternoon sugar crashes.
Our friends at LiveWell Frederick have tons of ideas for healthier drink alternatives, too—check them out.
Remember Healthy Habits – Wash Your Hands!
Don’t let the excitement of the holidays distract you from other
good, healthy habits. Keep yourself and those around you healthy by remembering to
wash your hands throughout the day and covering coughs with a tissue or your upper elbow
(not your hands). Keep those germs at bay.
Regular handwashing is one of the most effective ways to remove germs and
avoid getting sick. During the holidays, bacteria from unwashed hands
can get into foods and drinks while being prepared or consumed. According to the
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, they can even
multiply in some types of foods and drinks, under certain conditions, and make people sick.
Be sure to wash your hands at these key moments throughout the day:
after preparing food
After handling raw meat, poultry, seafood, or their juices, or uncooked eggs
After using the toilet
After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
After touching garbage
After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
after caring for someone who is sick
after treating a cut or wound
Talk to little ones about covering their mouths when they cough and washing
their hands before touching any food. If a child is too young to understand,
be extra careful about keeping their hands clean throughout the day. Handwashing
with soap could
protect about 1 in every 3 young children who get sick with diarrhea and almost 1 in 5 young children with respiratory
infections like pneumonia.
And remember to wash your hands after touching devices like tablets, phones,
and video game controllers—these can full of germs. Consider bringing
antibacterial cleaning wipes along to give your devices a quick clean
before and after the days’ events.
Stay Home If You’re Sick
Sometimes we happen to get sick just in time for the holidays. The festivities
only come around once a year, and it would be a bummer to miss out on
times with family, traditions, and all the delicious food. But if you’re
sick with the flu or another contagious illness, it could be unfortunate
for others if they catch your sickness.
If you have a contagious illness, consider staying home and making it a
smaller gathering with just your immediate family this year, or having
a cup of tea and getting some rest. Ask other people to cook for you.
If you’re usually the host and you’re couch-ridden, allow
someone else or a group of people to step up to the plate. If your symptoms persist,
visit Urgent Care.
What are your favorite tips for eating well and staying healthy during
the holidays? Share them in the comments below.