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Here’s to Your Holiday Health: Sensible Dining for a Festive Season

Registered dietitian Laura returns with advice on how to balance seasonal splurging with sensible choices at those fattening year-end feasts.Year-end holiday weight gain is so commonplace that it’s become a regular punch line. But this health hazard is no laughing matter; more importantly, it doesn’t have to be the norm. Eating is fundamental to how our bodies feel and perform. When disease management enters the picture, what we choose to eat — and how much — has an even more profound effect. And that doesn’t change just because it’s a holiday.

Today, registered dietitian Laura returns with advice on how to face those fattening December feasts with your health in mind. Read on for her suggestions on how to balance seasonal splurging with sensible choices.

Healthy Celebration

Laura cautions that temptations often abound at holiday gatherings, and finding strictly healthy options can be stressful. Therefore, as the calendar fills with events, she suggests focusing on weight management rather than weight loss. When you’re working every day toward a healthier weight, it’s all right to loosen restrictions on a really special occasion. You can shift focus toward staying at your current weight, enjoying some favorites in moderation without letting the scale creep back up.

Here are Laura’s other tips for holiday health:

  • Never skip a meal! If you starve yourself to compensate for a big feast, chances are you’ll be so hungry by mealtime that you could go really overboard.
  • Learn about the menu ahead of time. If you know that you will not find any healthy choices, offer to bring a dish such as a salad, vegetable side, chicken, or fish.
  • Eat until you are satisfied, not stuffed. Pace yourself and keep track of your intake.
  • Select small portions. This will allow you to enjoy all the different foods offered, while still controlling your calorie intake.
  • Avoid alcohol, which is high in calories and sugar. If you do drink, select light wines and beers, rather than mixed drinks.
  • Help yourself resist the urge to nibble by standing out of arm’s reach from food displays.
  • Make the holiday season about enjoying company. By talking more, you can eat less.
  • Make your plate a rainbow. Choose different varieties of fruits and vegetables often.
  • Learn to say ‘no’ politely. Reassure the chef that everything was delicious but you cannot eat any more. Remember how going overboard will make you feel later, and stay gently insistent.
  • Plan time for exercise. Exercise helps relieve holiday stress and prevent weight gain.

Special Concerns

Some chronic conditions require extra vigilance regarding certain nutrients. For example, individuals with heart disease may be watching their sodium (salt) content, and those with diabetes must be mindful of how meal timing and dietary sugar can affect their blood glucose level. Because classic dishes often contain unhealthy amounts of fat, salt, or sugar, planning for holiday dining may take some extra planning and adaptation. When in doubt, talk to your doctor or clinician about what foods to avoid and how you can indulge in healthier ways.

No matter what your health challenge, Residential Home Health offers a range of services to help you work toward your health goals safely at home. Call (888)930-WELL (9355) to discuss your specific situation with a Home Care Specialist today, or click here to take our 60-second, 15-question Home Care Assessment.