The Holiday’s are Here

All too often when the weather gets cold and the days get shorter, good intentions go out the window. Most of the time “Holiday Foods” like gravies, high-fat meats, desserts, eggnog, candy, stuffing, and casseroles are not exactly helping anyone reach their health goals. While it is okay to have an occasional treat, October to January tends to be a time when treats are readily available and fitness is at an all-time low. It may not seem like 3 or 4 months is a big deal, but most Americans gain at least 1-5 pounds during this period. Additionally, taking so many months off from focusing on your health makes it that much harder to get back-on-track. For those that have diabetes, hypertension, fatty liver disease, or other chronic conditions a few months can certainly have a large impact on disease progression and outcomes.

Don’t Over-do It

I love the holidays, but what I don’t love is binging. There is no reason work parties, family gatherings, or religious dinners can’t be healthy too.  The holidays should not be an excuse to overeat or eat excessive amounts of foods that offer little nutrition. Having a side of fruit or side salad are small ways to keep dinners delicious and nutritious. As always, there is never a reason to drink alcohol excessively, even if it is the holidays. Focus on the things that really matter- family and making memories. In addition to the usual fare, there are many small swaps to make holiday meals more nutritious:

  • Have a side of roasted vegetables such as broccoli, green beans, or asparagus available
  • Make a big fruit salad to go with dinner
  • Offer a 100% juice and sparkling water beverage to guests
  • Purchase “no salt added” or “low-sodium” canned goods
  • Offer turkey breast, pork loin, or other lean meats
  • Snack on popcorn, unsalted nuts/seeds, or vegetables with dip while waiting for dinner
  • Use whole wheat bread for stuffing and rolls

The point of having healthier options is not to make the holidays any less fun. Rather, these options are reasonable ways to offer guests with options that support and promote good health. For those with chronic diseases, the holidays are especially important. Ask any doctor, nurse, or clinical dietitian and they will tell you ambulatory care clinics or emergency rooms are full on holidays after someone’s blood sugar went too high, their blood pressure spiked, or they forgot to take necessary medications. The good news is, with proper planning and lifestyle changes the holidays can be enjoyable.