The holiday season is upon us, and, for many of us, that means tempting drinks and dishes that push healthy eating habits to the wayside. But that doesn’t mean you have to decline social gatherings or deprive yourself of signature holiday foods. Cara Derck, DO, a family medicine doctor with ProMedica Physicians, shares five tips for eating healthy during the holidays.
- Eat several small meals a day. Rather than saving all of your consumption for one large holiday meal, eat four to five small meals, including breakfast, throughout the day. This will increase your metabolism and keep it going.
- Stay hydrated with water. Limit high-calorie drinks such as alcohol and egg nog. These drinks can add too many empty calories to your diet when you drink more than one. Stick with water and save the high-calorie drinks for a treat.
- Eat your protein first. Protein helps you fill up faster and stay fuller longer. So enjoy the high-protein foods on your plate – such as turkey, ham, eggs, and beans – first.
- Bring a healthy dish to gatherings. Bringing your own healthy dish not only makes you a generous guest, it ensures that there will be at least one dish at the party that you know is safe to eat. Create salad, fruit or vegetable dishes that are minimally-processed and low in calories. If you have high blood pressure, heart issues or diabetes; avoid dishes that have hidden salt, which can make your condition worse. Ham, chips, olives, cheese, and casseroles made with cream soups are some popular holiday foods that are high in salt.
- If you do indulge, make a compromise. Saying “no” to desserts is not easy. In fact, desserts are often what tempt me the most. Compromise by thoroughly enjoying just one piece of dessert; then pass on other desserts and high-calorie drinks. If, like me, you love to try a variety of desserts, pick just a few dishes to try and take only one or two bites of each. However, make sure that the total of all of your bites still equal about one dessert piece.
It’s OK if you can’t make all of these changes at once this holiday season. Small changes are the ones that most people are able to stick with the best, so make changes little by little. When all else fails, remember that the holidays aren’t about the food. Take a break from the buffet table and enjoy quality time with family and friends.