The holidays can be a time of creating and remembering cherished memories, spending quality time with loved ones. It can also be a time of stress.
We all convene over food throughout the year, but especially over the holidays. So, if you’re the type that is stressed over the holidays, especially when it comes to managing your health goals while enjoying this time of year, I’m sharing my top five tips to prevent being overwhelmed by nutrition.
Plan regular exercise into your schedule.
It doesn’t have to be every day, it doesn’t have to be for a lengthy hour, but incorporating some movement will help provide both a mental and physical break from any stressors, as well as good-for-you hormones that are experienced during and after exercise. Pick a time of day that might be more feasible for you, whether it’s the morning, lunchtime or afternoon. Having this preplanned time in your day will help you be more likely to stick with it throughout the season. Remember to take time off and give yourself permission to not stress, if it doesn’t happen as you intend.
If you’re in the routine of planning weekly meals and you can continue to do so, it can be helpful to continue this pattern. It’s important to include meals out, leftovers or a snack platter, as examples, so you don’t feel the need to cook every night.
Continue with regular meals and snacks throughout each day.
Your appetite, hunger and energy levels will be more stable throughout each day if you continue to eat smaller meals more frequently throughout the day, without skipping any meals or snacks.
Aim to eat breakfast within the first hour or two of waking up, keeping in mind it’s okay that this gets pushed back on the days you’re able to sleep in. After breakfast, try to have the next meal or snack approximately every three hours. Then at each of these meals and snacks, try to include some lean protein (chicken, turkey, ham, tuna, string cheese, nuts) and fiber rich carbs (fruit, starchy veggies or whole grains) and heart healthy fat (avocado, olive oil, nuts, nut butter). This nutritional complexity or balance of nutrients will provide satisfaction and sustained energy.
Plan to bring or prepare a vegetable.
There are plenty of rich and delicious sides at our meals that may include veggies, but they are often not the star of the show (thinking of dishes like green bean or sweet potato casserole). Try to include a variety of roasted vegetables and harvest-like salads to add valuable veggies to the planned menu. This way you can have both, a bit of indulgence (as appropriate for this time of year) but a bit of balance with the more simply prepared and nutritious veggies.
Pick your priorities.
You probably have some favorite dishes that you look forward to having when this time of year rolls around. Likewise, there are probably items available that you don’t necessarily love, but you have at times simply because you’re hungry, tired or stressed.
Determining what you love and what you don’t is an important step in identifying what needs to be included in your plan this holiday season and what you can live without. You don’t need to have any guilt over having sweet potato pie or the extra serving of dressing, but this will help you to determine what is really worth including in your holiday nutrition plan.
Rebecca Miller, MPH, RDN, LDN is a registered dietitian nutritionist who shares recipes and inspiration on her blog, Twisted Nutrition. She can be reached at TwistedNutritionBlog.com or via email