Choose Health with Holiday Nosh and Nibbles
Whether it is Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, the holiday season is filled with friends, fellowship and food. Now it’s the four-letter f-word aka Food that can get a person in trouble. Too often my clients reach out to me after indulging in the seasonal food swag. You know my mantra is “all things in moderation” and if you have special dietary needs, my caveat during these days of temptation is to consider the consequences before you indulge. I’m not suggesting that you choose deprivation—research shows that feeling deprived can trigger overindulgence and that is what we want to avoid. My goal is to help you wrap up the year feeling healthy and positive that you’ve made wise eating choices.
One of the best tactics in avoiding the dilemma that comes when facing a spread of holiday food is to plan ahead and be strategic. Know you have a gathering guaranteed to be decked out with a buffet laden with good things to eat? Make wise choices during the day—don’t skip meals and arrive at the party with a ravenous appetite. Drink plenty of water which will help you feel full, keep you hydrated, and help balance out any alcohol intake. Following are several suggestions to help you successfully navigate the feasts of the season.
Clues to Healthwise Choices for Diabetics
- Eat a snack before going to the gathering.
- If attending a buffet, peruse the buffet first.
- Start your meal with vegetables from the appetizers; avoid dips unless they are diabetic friendly.
- Choose lean proteins such as turkey or chicken and remove the skin.
- Avoid casseroles, sauces and gravies.
- Limit the potatoes, rice and dressing/stuffing to small portions, about 1/3 cup.
- Bring a dish to share that is something you know you can eat.
- Choose calorie-free beverages such as flavored tea, water and seltzer with fruit twists, avoid punches and mixed drinks.
- Limit alcoholic intake—one drink for women and no more than two for men.
- For dessert choose a small portion, eat it slowly and savor every bite.
- Add exercise to the menu, take a walk, or encourage others to join you in dancing.
Although I drafted the above for people who are diabetic and monitoring their sugar and carbohydrates, they are also good guidelines for anyone. Additional tips for festive and healthy eating include:
- Mixed nuts are popular items for entertaining however, limit nuts to about one-ounce, a handful which is approximately 1/3-cup.
- If you enjoy fresh vegetables and dip, go for hummus in place of ranch dressing.
- Be wary of cheese and crackers, a handful of crackers with cheese cubes will quickly send you over the calorie limit.
- Lighten the eggnog—fill your glass with half eggnog and half skim milk to cut back on calories.
- Use skim milk or water when making hot chocolate; pass on whipped topping and use three mini marshmallows.
- Leave room for dessert—skip bread or avoid pasta to make sure you leave a calorie allowance for dessert.
Remember the reason for the season. It is about family, friends and fellowship. You may go overboard on these three and enjoy a happy healthy holiday season without regrets.
Take Away: You can savor the foods of the season by planning ahead and balancing your choices between those that are light on fat and calories and the foods that are guilty pleasures.