Happy Holiday Season!
by Danielle Dellaquila MS, CNS, LDN (Functional Nutritionist at Carpathia Collaborative).
As the holiday season approaches, I wanted to share some of my favorite tips for eating healthy over the holiday season, particularly at holiday parties/events where we are more likely to eat less mindfully and healthfully. The holidays are a special time of year to share with family and friends, but could also set us back on our health journeys/goals and we end up paying for it for the next several months. Here are some tips to enjoy the holidays, yet not let the season derail your health.
- Focus on eating your veggies and protein: Be sure to fill half your plate with vegetables. Combine both raw and cooked veggies. Gram for gram, veggies offer more micronutrients per calorie than most other foods (besides organ meats and shellfish of course!). Veggies are also filled with fiber to help you feel satiated. Protein is by far the most satiating of foods. It is very difficult to overeat protein!
- Bring a healthy dish that YOU will enjoy: So many times we go to a party where there are no gluten-free or dairy-free options and we are hungry, so we end up eating foods we wouldn’t ordinarily eat, causing our health ailments to act up. If you plan ahead and bring a healthy Paleo-friendly meal to the party, you can plan on that being your main source of food for the evening. Make sure to make a special meal for yourself (your friends and family will benefit as well).
- Get moving: Before a party or the actual holiday gathering, be sure to get some extra steps in. Grab a loved one (or enjoy some alone time) a few hours before the event and go for a walk. Enjoy the fresh air, get some movement, clear your mind and set some eating intentions before the party. If you make a well thought out agreement with yourself regarding your eating/drinking intentions at a party (maybe even share with an accountability partner), you’re more likely to stick to healthier choices at a holiday party/event.
- When drinking alcohol, choose low sugar/calorie alcoholic beverages: Let’s face it, it’s the holidays. You’ll probably want to indulge in an alcoholic beverage or two. Choosing your beverage wisely makes a difference. Try a GF vodka (Tito’s), tequila, gin or go for something new like Brazilian Cachaca with sparkling water and 2 Tbsp of fresh lime juice (not just a lime wedge). Maybe even add a sprig of fresh rosemary or some mint for some holiday flare. If you’re a wine drinker, be sure to drink old world wines which are lower in alcohol, pesticides and residual sugar.
- Don’t go to an event/party hungry: When we are hungry or worse yet, starving, we tend to care less about what we are putting into our mouth than just putting something in our mouth. If you have a healthy snack before heading to a party/event, you’re less likely to overindulge on some unhealthy foods.
- Stay hydrated: Be sure to drink plenty of water during the holiday season. Sometimes we mistake hunger for thirst. When a tummy is full of water and a body is well hydrated, you are less likely to overeat. Do your best to drink half your weight in ounces per day. For example, if you weigh 150 lbs., drink 75 oz. of water.
- Prioritize sleep: A good night’s sleep is a pillar of good health. It provides our body, mind and spirit the necessary rest to face the inevitable stresses that the holiday season throws at us. Ensuring enough sleep also helps keep our immune systems up to par. When we are deficient in sleep, we can crave sugary food and drinks, which likely leads to weight gain. In addition, you’re likely to be low on energy and feel too lethargic to move or exercise daily.
- Eat slowly: Take the time when chewing your food so it can be properly digested. This will also give enough time for your brain to send a signal to your body that it is satiated. A good rule is to wait 20 minutes before going back for seconds.
- Substitute a mocktail for your second or third “cocktail”: As mentioned above, it is the holidays and it’s wise to be realistic about expectations. But there is a fine line between allowing for a little indulgence and going overboard.
- Self-care: Taking time for yourself to decompress is an important thing to remember. Holidays are filled with good cheer, family, friends but they can also really be a stressful time of year. Taking the time to decompress, whatever that means for you, will help your body come back to homeostasis. For some, that might be moving your body, taking a yoga class, meditating, tai chi, taking a walk, coffee/tea with a friend, enjoying a good book, getting some alone time, etc. Make YOU and your well-being a priority. You are worth it!
If you need some more one on one help with meal/eating planning through the holidays, please reach out to our front desk and schedule an appointment with me, Danielle.
Happy Holidays to You and Yours!
Danielle Dellaquila MS, CNS, LDN