The holidays are here! It’s a busy time of the year and healthy habits can get pushed aside. Social events are on the calendar and that means food. There may be days or evenings that feel like they revolve around food. Holiday food is usually more of a splurge too. Sweets are abundant and even the good guys like vegetables have added calories-think butter, bacon, cheese sauce.
So what are you going to do to control weight and glucose during the holidays? Here is a list of ideas that you can do to have healthy holidays.
- Plan ahead. Ask about the foods that will be available. If you don’t think there will be healthy choices bring a healthy dish to share. If you need some new ideas, check out recipes from the American Diabetes Association.
- Eat lighter and healthy foods during the day. Don’t go to the event hungry. Take the edge off hunger and eat a healthy snack before so you aren’t starving and overeat.
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Sometimes dehydration confuses our body. Symptoms of dehydration such as fatigue or lightheadedness feel like hunger symptoms. We may eat to alleviate the symptoms when we could have managed just fine with some water.
- Limit the liquid calories. In addition to rich food there are also more beverage choices. Try to avoid sweetened beverages and limit alcohol intake. Try something different like fruit-infused sparkling water.
- Plan exercise into your day. Try for some extra steps during your day or hit the gym to lower glucose and control weight.
- Make a healthy plate. Plan for ½ of your plate non-starchy vegetables, ¼ lean protein, and ¼ starch. For a guide check out Create Your Plate.
- Wait before eating a second portion. It takes almost 20 minutes for hormones from our gut to send the fullness signal to the brain. If you feel like you are still hungry and wanting seconds, wait 10 minutes and then decide if you really want that second portion.
- Think about satisfaction instead of fullness. Often we feel that we should be full after a meal, but really we should be no longer hungry.
- Think about the real reason for the holiday or event. While there can be delicious food during the holidays, usually the holiday isn’t really about food. It’s about being with family, time with friends, celebrating something, or giving to others.
In addition to these tips, it’s important to recognize that stress and seasonal mood changes can affect glycemic control. If you are struggling with this, talk with your health care provider or a mental health professional. Choose a few of these tips to help you have healthy holidays.
by Christine McKinney, RD LDN CDE
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