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Healthy Holiday Eating

This month, we’ve been talking about spending. How you spend your calorie salary is just as important as how you spend your work salary! Why? Maybe you want to keep wearing your skinny pants throughout the holidays! Or maybe you need to close check on your numbers (glucose, cholesterol, etc.). Or maybe you just want to have the energy to keep up!

Think of your eating as a part of your budget. Would you spend all of your income on fancy coffee drinks, 10 pairs of name-brand boots, and the latest big SUV? What about a place to live, or food to eat? It’s the same with your eating budget – spend more on the good stuff that will help you stay full longer (like fiber), help your numbers (those yummy vegetables), and keep your spending on track! Don’t spend your eating budget on just the holiday coconut cake, the pumpkin cheesecake muffins from the store, and the candy from Wanda!

I’ll share some strategies for getting through the holidays without blowing your food budget! But the most important strategy is to Plan Ahead! It’s another small step towards becoming a better you and it can pay off big down the road.

  • Never let yourself “starve” or skip meals – think about your hunger on a scale and use it to figure out how hungry you are. Never skip meals to save up calories for later – that can really lead to overeating!

  • Enjoy the conversation and the company. Eat slowly enough to give your brain time to register that you are filling up and aren’t hungry anymore. Start with just one small plate of a few favorites in small portions. Fill the rest of the plate with fiber-filled vegetables, fruits, beans, etc.

  • Choose your splurges carefully! Know which events and which foods you don’t want to pass up. Mom’s candied sweet potatoes or Green Bean Casserole or Grandma’s pecan pie? I always saved a little room for my mother-in-law’s cookies – just ONE though. Ask yourself if that fruitcake is worth the splurge, or would you rather have the almond pound cake?

  • Proteins and veggies first! Concentrate on eating from the lean protein and vegetable part of the menu first to reduce your appetite. Salads with a low-fat dressing, vegetables trays without too much rich dip, chicken skewers, etc. are great places to start.

  • Eat what you decide to eat and not what other people want you to eat. Plan ahead if possible. Or bring a dish you know you can enjoy (like my personal favorite - a veggie tray!). Don’t be forced into eating something that is not on your budget for the evening.

  • Practice the art of the “polite decline.” You can still show loved ones you care, even if you don’t want to eat their fudge or other food items. Just say, “No, thank you!” Some people may need a more specific reason such as “I’m trying to be healthier and I have trouble stopping with just one. Thanks for thinking of me though!” It’s polite and you express your thanks.

  • Leave the table before you are full. Continue the conversation somewhere else, or help clear the table and wash the dishes. If your family enjoys sitting at the table for a while, decide beforehand how much you’ll eat so you won’t be tempted to keep eating. Or, put your (paper) napkin on top of the plate to signal that you are done.

  • You don’t need to try everything today – that’s what leftovers are for. Or another holiday dinner or party!

  • When you move away from the table, keep right on moving. After dinner is a great time to bundle up and take a walk around the neighborhood. Stay active! You’ll feel better and have more energy.

  • Cheers to good health! Quench your thirst with low-calorie options. Drink water with lemon or lime slices. Offer seltzer water with a splash of 100% fruit juice.

  • Bake healthier. Use recipes with unsweetened applesauce, pumpkin, or mashed ripe bananas instead of butter or oil. Try reducing the amount of sugar listed in recipes. Use spices such as cinnamon, allspice, or nutmeg to add flavor.

  • Be the life of the party! Laugh, mingle, dance, and play games. Focus on fun and enjoy the company of others.
3 family members standing around truck

Remember, those small steps can help you have a healthy AND happy holiday season! Plan ahead – plan to make good choices most of the time and plan your splurges carefully.

Happy Thanksgiving from me and my family!