By Lisa Licavoli, RD
Sometimes it’s hard to measure up to Holiday hype. Maybe it’s time to kick it down a notch. Who really has time or energy to cook all week or can afford to buy presents for ten nieces and nephews? Keeping it simple has never made more sense than during the Holidays. It’s time to bring in new, updated, easy traditions for Holiday fun.
Most of us would like to get through the Holidays with our health and waistline intact! Let “less is more” be your motto this season. Whether that be about food or spending or over the top expectations. You can still create fond, holiday memories without stressing yourself out.
Healthy Hints for a Happier Holiday
- Plan Ahead
Holiday meals can be a combination of pre-made store bought items and homemade specialties.
- Make your grocery store easier and take advantage of washed and pre-chopped produce for ease of preparation.
- Make meals in advance. Many recipes can be prepared ahead of time, which can save you from cooking all day. For a small gathering, cheese fondue is almost always a big hit. You can even buy ready-made cheese fondue at many grocery stores. For larger gatherings, consider buying pre-made charcuterie board and adding your own selection of veggies (those pre-packaged veggies can really come in handy). For those of you that are not familiar with charcutier boards (pronounced shar-koo-der-y), they’re usually a combination of various meats and cheeses, combined with other creative, mouth-watering pairing selections including fruits, jams, nuts, etc.
- If your guests brought any food, add it to the table for an easy delicious holiday dinner for all to enjoy.
When you’re stressed out, even the best of intentions have a way of backfiring. Relax. Breath. Have fun. Let go of the things that are not in your control and ease up on the things that are. Perfectionism will surely prevent you from being able to enjoy each moment. So, Laugh and let things flow.
Even though you probably have a full social calendar, it’s important to try stay active. You don’t necessarily have to go to the gym or follow your daily routine, but taking your dog for a walk, stretching or squeezing in an exercise class or just doing some floor exercises can help derive beneficial endorphins and prevent those extra holiday inches.
- Don’t skip meals
Did you know that skipping meals actually promotes bingeing? If you’re trying to avoid eating too much, or just trying to save room to allow yourself to eat more later, at a big holiday dinner for example, you’re more likely to feel unsatisfied and uncomfortable. If you eat lightly and pace yourself, you don’t have to let yourself get too hungry and you will also enjoy your food more. Also, try to practice mindful eating over the holidays. Do you really need that eggnog? Do you even like that fruit cake? Slow down and put some thought into what you’re putting in your body.
- Special Considerations
The Holidays can be a difficult time for many. Try to be aware of those around you and offer some compassion.
- Those who have lost someone will likely be grieving that loss or feeling more lonely during this time. Let them know you care and that you’re there for them.
- People in recovery from substance abuse and eating disorders will find themselves surrounded by alcohol and food, which can be very stressful. If that’s you, consider going to a morning meeting and having an exit plan in place. If things get too tens, give your sponsor a call.
- People with severe food allergies have a greater risk of getting sick from mystery food ingredients that can’t be checked on a label. This is frequently the case when pot lucks or baked goods. Bringing your own food may be the answer.
- Many people are on a budget and are stressed by the amount of money spent during the Holidays. Keep it simple. Utilize coupons, shop sales, make your own gifts and decline Santa Swaps.
The bottom line for a healthy holiday is to stay aware and focus on what really matters. Practice mindful eating; enjoy what you eat but don’t make it the sole spotlight. Take time to relax and be grateful for all that you have. And don’t forget to stay positive and keep an optimistic outlook, and your Holidays will be a rewarding experience.