The holiday season brings joy and celebration, but it also carries the risk of overindulgence and inactivity, which can sabotage your success in maintaining a healthy weight, blood sugar levels, and cholesterol levels.
But, with some planning and our savvy strategies, you can have a good time without compromising your health.
At Midwest Regional Health Services in Omaha, Nebraska, our primary care physicians and specialists recognize that staying healthy is a year-round effort and that the holiday season presents extra challenges. That's why we've pulled together our best tips for celebrating without sending the scale, your blood sugar levels, and your cholesterol levels soaring.
1. Smart pre-party snacking
You've probably heard the advice not to grocery shop on an empty stomach. The same rule applies to holiday gatherings. It's wise to have a healthy snack before you head out to a holiday event. Arriving hungry can lead to overindulgence and poor food choices. Consider eating a healthy pre-party snack, such as low-fat yogurt with berries, to curb your appetite and keep you from eating those extra helpings.
2. Mindful portion control
Holiday buffets can be tempting with an overabundance of unhealthy but tasty choices. Keep an eye on portion size. Remember, a serving of meat or fish should be about the size of your palm, and a serving of starchy carbohydrates should be no more than a handful.
3. Embrace fruits and veggies
Don't dismiss nutrient-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables, during the holiday season. Loading up on steamed broccoli and other veggies can stabilize your blood sugar levels and keep you feeling full. Try dividing your plate into quarters and filling two of them with veggies and fruit.
4. Don’t hover around the buffet table
Consider gathering in a different room away from the irresistible food spread to avoid constant nibbling. Out of sight, out of mind; this can allow you to focus on meaningful conversations and cherished moments instead of endless food.
5. Avoid multitasking
Multitasking while eating can lead to increased calorie consumption. By splitting your attention between various activities and your meal, you’ll be less likely to pay attention to your body's fullness signals. This holiday season, make an effort to turn off the TV, put away your phone, and eliminate other distractions during meals.
6. Lean on health-conscious companions
Having the support of health-conscious friends and family is priceless during the holidays. Surround yourself with others who make healthy food choices and who can help keep you on track throughout the festivities.
7. Choose your treats wisely
Indulging in occasional holiday treats, such as a slice of apple pie, is fine. However, overindulging in every sugary delight on the holiday table can negatively affect your health. Decide in advance on which treat you'll enjoy, and limit yourself to one serving to maintain a balance.
8. Make smart ingredient swaps
If you're in charge of holiday cooking, get creative with healthier ingredient swaps. Opt for skim milk, low-fat yogurt, and light cream cheese to reduce fat in various foods, such as macaroni and cheese and baked goods.
9. Sip guilt-free drinks
Holiday beverages often contain excess sugar and fat, contributing to unwanted calories. Be mindful of your calorie intake and opt for healthier beverages, such as herbal teas, fruit-infused water, and sparkling water with a splash of fruit, for a refreshing and guilt-free drink option.
Following our nine tips can help you enjoy the festivities and stay healthy at the same time.
For more advice on staying healthy this holiday season, or for any other primary health care needs, contact Midwest Regional Health Services to schedule an appointment today.