The holidays are meant to be a time filled with family, fun, and food. But let’s face it, being surrounded by traditional holiday foods and loved ones who may not have similar health goals as you can be tricky. Here are some obstacles you may encounter this holiday season and evidence-based tips to help keep healthy habits in mind while still enjoying the festivities.
Appetizers and Potlucks
Holiday parties often involve heavy appetizers either served before the main course or set up along one table for easy grazing and socializing.
Tip: Try to Avoid Mindless Munching
- When chatting with friends, try to avoid standing or sitting near the appetizers, as this can lead to mindless snacking while your attention is focused on your environment and not your food.
- Instead of grazing from the table or passed hors d’oeuvres, ask for a smaller appetizer or dessert-sized plate to help with portion control. Portioning out your appetizers ahead of time will help you to avoid overeating before the main course.
- If you find this is an area you struggle with, you can also consider skipping the appetizers altogether.
Tip: Bring a Plant-based Dish to Share
Depending on your social circle, potlucks may not feature lots of nutrient dense or plant-based dishes. Here’s how to prepare:
- Instead of worrying about what will be available to you, bring a dish that features a plant-based protein such as beans, lentils, tempeh, or tofu to ensure you have enough protein on your plate to feel satisfied throughout the event. Do not be afraid to use sides that are plant-based as your main course instead of taking a “side-sized” portion.
Tip: Pile on the Color and Fiber
Filling your plate with fiber first is a good way to balance blood sugar and avoid filling up on calorie dense food to stay satisfied.
- Appetizers can be a great place to get in your fiber from veggie trays, fruit salads, and tapas-based salad options.
- Consider focusing more of your intake on fiber appetizers and enjoy a lighter meal, if you know plant-based options are less likely to appear on the dinner table.
Tip: Pair Desserts with Dinner
Avoid eating desserts or sweet treats on an empty stomach. Refined sugars and grains are often available for snacking during the holidays, but are much better for your blood sugar when consumed after a meal or protein and fiber rich snack.
- Try to enjoy dessert close to your meal to provide a sweet after-snack. Aim to choose desserts that provide fiber-rich fruit, so you feel satisfied after your meal.
Tip: Manage and Minimize Consumption
Truth: Lots of events center around alcohol during the holiday season. Excessive amounts of alcohol are linked to many health problems, such as liver disease, heart disease, various cancers, and neurological disorders.
- To avoid a helpful host constantly offering to fill an empty glass, many people find having something in your hand can prevent hosts from asking if you want another drink.
- Consider having soda water with lemon or lime, so you are able to hydrate while enjoying a simple, low sugar mocktail.
- Alternating between a cocktail and soda water can balance your alcohol intake.
- Not everyone’s health goals align and that is okay! Surround yourself with people who support your goals, regardless of their own.