Office parties and family dinners make eating healthy during the holiday season a challenge. But you can still enjoy your favorite treats while maintaining a balanced diet, according to nutrition experts at UT Southwestern Medical Center.
Jaclyn Albin, M.D., Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Internal Medicine and Director of Culinary Medicine, and dietitian Milette Siler, M.B.A., RD, LD, offer these tips for enjoying holiday food while staying mindful of your health.
Everything in moderation. You are the architect of your plate, so you can create a healthy mix. Start with a smaller helping and go back for more if you’re still hungry. Plan to fill half of the plate with fruits and veggies; consider adding multiple colors to each plate as a goal.
Enjoy special holiday treats. Say “no thanks” to guilt and shame and instead embrace intention and mindfulness. It’s OK to enjoy your favorite treats during the holidays, and don’t feel like you need to “earn” them. That said, put treats in the occasional category, where they are special because they are infrequent.
Have a plan. Start with a pre-meal strategy. If you are going to a party or event where you anticipate feeling overwhelmed by options, consider eating a nourishing pre-party meal (think veggies, fruits, nuts/seeds, legumes, lean protein). Then you can focus on socializing and just grab a few light additions.
Try the 10-minute wait. If you just ate a delicious cookie and feel compelled to have another, wait 10 minutes. Drink some water, grab a savory food item, and distract yourself. Then, if you still really want another cookie, go for it. However, you might just find you’ve moved on!
Watch how much you drink. Alcoholic and sugary holiday beverages can quickly add up, and they don’t do much to help us stay full. Plan ahead when you expect to indulge and be sure to drink lots of water throughout the day before a celebration.
Think beyond your plate. Holiday wellness isn’t just about nourishing food. Don’t forget about consistent, adequate sleep, daily movement (even small bursts of 5-10 minutes are helpful), and stress management strategies that help you stay on track (think herbal tea, aromatherapy, a warm bath, or a massage). A healthful holiday season will set you up for wellness year-round and doesn’t have to be one-size-fits-all. The most important approach is one you can stick to – consistency matters!
About UT Southwestern Medical Center
UT Southwestern, one of the nation’s premier academic medical centers, integrates pioneering biomedical research with exceptional clinical care and education. The institution’s faculty members have received six Nobel Prizes and include 26 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 21 members of the National Academy of Medicine, and 13 Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigators. The full-time faculty of more than 3,100 is responsible for groundbreaking medical advances and is committed to translating science-driven research quickly to new clinical treatments. UT Southwestern physicians provide care in more than 80 specialties to more than 120,000 hospitalized patients, more than 360,000 emergency room cases, and oversee nearly 5 million outpatient visits a year. (KB/Newswise)