Healthy eating during the holidays, AND the rest of the year
The holidays, from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day, can be a minefield for those who want to make sure they don’t damage their health by overeating – and that’s a category that should include all of us.
But it’s not that hard to eat healthy at this time or any other, as Meredith Kantsios, nutrition care manager at Westminster-Canterbury of the Blue Ridge, can tell you. We hope you caught her video presentation, “Healthy Tips for the Holidays,” on Dec. 17. If you didn’t, you can still watch it online – and you can check out the recipes she shared, which are now on the WCBR website.
The holidays may be mostly behind us now, but the advice Meredith shares applies all year long. In fact, it can form the basis of some really smart New Year’s resolutions. Be sure to check out the video and recipes. But to give you an overview, here’s what Meredith had to say.
You don’t have to stay away from the foods you love
First, you don’t have to be a martyr and avoid the things you love. Enjoy what you enjoy, but do it wisely.
Next, remember that there are no “good” or “bad” foods. Every food, including your favorites, can fit into a healthy lifestyle. Food isn’t just some kind of shameful indulgence – it’s fuel that your body needs to keep it going. So rather than demonizing this or that dish, approach things strategically.
What does that mean? Things like this:
Don’t starve yourself planning to load up at a party. In fact, start each day with a small meal that includes whole grains, fruit, vegetables and some type of lean protein. Then, when you go to a holiday – or any other – party, try eating a small meal or snack before the event. That will take the edge off and make it less likely you’re tempted to overeat later.
When you get there, think about what you’re eating. Don’t just graze mindlessly:
Eat slowly and savor every bite.
Look at food portions. Don’t put more than you need to on your plate.
Use smaller cups and plates when you can. And provide them when you’re the host yourself.
Savor the foods you truly enjoy – the ones you look forward to all year. But pass up on those that don’t really interest you. Don’t load your plate with one – or two – of everything you see.
As you dine, stop and ask yourself if you’re already full. Push your plate away before it’s empty – mentally or even physically – and wait before continuing. It takes 15 minutes for your mind to catch up with your stomach.
Moderation and balance are the keys, so hold onto them always.
Other ways to be healthier all year
Meredith provides advice in a number of areas, including how to:
Cook and transport food safely, at proper temperatures to prevent trouble with microbes.
Properly store and reheat leftovers – and know when to throw them away.
Build a more nutritious diet, eating vegetables of many colors.
Swap problematic ingredients with healthier alternatives, such as applesauce or mashed bananas instead of oil, margarine or butter.
Start a healthy exercise regimen (if your doctor agrees), and enjoy it.
There’s much more. Meredith provides all sorts of ways to be happier and healthier without going hungry.