Healthy Holiday Eating
What? Is that even possible?
Thanksgiving, Christmas Parties, New Year’s! Three huge holidays in a row really set us up for major stress… and they are back to back to back.
In a way, it’s good that we can get all of the stress over with all at once. So, let’s look at some strategies. It really is all about our outlook If you are fortunate enough to have a large and loving family, share the chores. Gone are the days of “going to Grandma’s house” who lovingly had the available time and health to put on “the spread”. Today, most spouses work full time and grandma may also be a working woman. I’m a grandma and I work, so I know that this is true. If this is not your reality, helping out a local soup kitchen can be a wonderful experience.
Relationships matter most
No matter what the setting, nourishing those relationships that nourish you can be uplifting and energizing. Really, it’s the relationships that matter most. The clock doesn’t change just because it’s the holidays. Each of us still only have 24 hours each day, so start early in the year making your lists of what needs to be done extra. Pace yourself and keep your heart on what is most important.
As far as the eating part goes, most of the truly traditional foods are fairly healthy, but it is fun to change things around. More than likely, you have tried a few new recipes this year, so pick one or two that you truly enjoyed and introduce it to the family. You will know if it’s a hit by how much you don’t bring home. So, give yourself permission, but don’t feel that you have to. If your gatherings are counting on “the way it has always been”, that’s ok too.
Don’t skip your usual meals You may want to eat smaller portions at your earlier meals in a day when you know that you are attending a holiday party later, but still eat something at breakfast and lunch. This will help you not overeat. That “stuffed” feeling is not at all pleasant and may disrupt your sleep – another precious commodity at any time of the year, especially this one. Do keep an eye on alcohol intake. This can add up to a lot of carbs and calories that don’t give you much nutritionally.
Breathing & Thinking
Gym attendance is usually down this time of year. Still, neglecting the exercise is not in our best interest. A brisk walk, even if only for 10 or 15 minutes can be wonderful alone time, or a brief conversation with a friend. However you do it, take time for breathing and thinking. Lowers the stress level and helps us be peaceful inside of ourselves.
This is also the time of year that I get to empty my cupboards of the containers that I have acquired from bringing home leftovers on those occasions when I have eaten out. I let friends and family take leftovers home, rather than encouraging them to finish every last bite. If you don’t have the cabinet space for such things – Ziploc works well too.
Don't count calories
Finally, don’t count the carbs or the calories, unless that is what you are already doing. The guilt about holiday eating can cause more stress and therefore greater weight gain. Those few extra pounds that you MAY add to your frame can be taken care of after the holidays are over. Typically, in January, people get back in the gym or step up their physical activity level. So relax and enjoy!
Merry Christmas everyone!
Dr. Michele Munnich