Staying Healthy this Holiday Season
Post by Olivia Martino, Registered Dietitian and Co-owner, Nourish Northwest
As a dietitian, I feel as though I must write the obligatory “how to stay healthy during the holiday season” post. I personally have always disliked reading these posts because they all typically say the same thing: eat before the party, don’t use heavy cream in your recipes and watch out for those passed hors d’oeuvres. I have to say, some of these tips are good ones and I do use them with my clients. But I think we need something different.
We have heard of these strategies year after year and yet, the average person gains 2-5 pounds during the holiday season. While this may seem insignificant, the problem lies in the fact that most of us don’t ever lose that weight throughout the year. Then the holidays roll around again and we pick up another couple of pounds. This leads to a significant weight gain over time.
Last year I wrote about this topic, with the take home message being: ditch the guilt. I discussed the importance of enjoying your family food traditions as they are intended to be, rather than trying to modify them to be lower fat versions. Reframing your thoughts around these foods from feeling guilty to feeling happy about being able to enjoy these foods can do wonders for your emotional state. And many of us can agree, when we are not in the best emotional state, our eating habits often take a turn for the worse. I want to re-emphasize this concept again this year because I do think it’s very important. But I understand that it also may be easier said than done.
So, let’s look at a more action-based, concrete method of eating healthier during the holidays. It’s my single most important mission and passion as a dietitian and it involves making vegetables delicious and exciting. We all know we are supposed to eat vegetables to be healthy; it’s not an exciting new concept. Food fads have come and gone but eating vegetables has always remained a tried and true way to manage weight and prevent against chronic disease. So, if we know for a fact that eating vegetables is the most important thing we can do to stay healthy then why do we have trouble doing this? Why are we constantly looking for a different solution?
When it comes down to it, I think the main reason is simply that other foods taste better. When faced with a choice between a serving of the baby carrots and the double chocolate cheesecake bites on the buffet table, I really don’t expect many people to be excited about the carrots (I wouldn’t either). The cheesecake bites are always going to taste good and remain a tempting option but let’s give them a run for their money and replace the carrots with a beautiful, delicious, colorful and flavorful fruit or veggie option. I believe that fruit and vegetables can become the most delicious part of any meal and when that happens, eating healthy suddenly become very, very easy.
Preparing and bringing a healthy dish to your next holiday party will not only provide you with something healthy to eat when you’re there but others will appreciate it as well. They may not say it, but they are most likely experiencing the same stresses over how to eat healthy this season. So without further ado, here is a round-up of some of my favorite dishes that truly make the fruit and veggies the star of the show!