Preparing for the Holiday Season: How to Enjoy without Over-Indulging

Holidays are a high-pressure time for people trying to monitor their intake.

Trust me, I get it — we spend the next two months piling our plates with a scoop of everything, wash it down with cocktails all night, and top it all off with desserts, and since we wait all year for these celebrations, we want to enjoy every minute!

My first piece of advice is usually this: Cut yourself some slack, it’s a holiday! If you truly eat whatever you’d like on a day like Thanksgiving, that is 100% okay. Your lifestyle is built upon your everyday choices, and one day of splurges is not going to topple any progress you’ve been making.

If you’d like some actual tips on how to make the holidays healthier, however, that’s also reasonable. Nutrition is largely mental, and if a free-for-all eating day is going to set you back or open up a whole season of overeating, then try these tips:

  1. Focus on your fruits and veggies. Nutrients matter, so even if you’re having a particularly high calorie day, try to make sure you’re getting vitamins, minerals, and fiber from plant foods! More decadent dishes like sweet potatoes with marshmallows or green been casserole will have added empty calories from the toppings, so try to scoop more veggies but less topping to cut a bit of the calories. Overall, though, eating a plate that is 50% veggie casserole is still healthier than one that is 50% macaroni and cheese.
  2. Try not to drink your calories. This is a huge factor to the holiday season weight gain! Light beers run around 100 calories, while heavier winter lagers are closer to 200. Seasonal craft cocktails can easily be close to 200 as well, especially as you add in sweet juices. You can still enjoy your drinks, but try to limit the number and type to keep the empty calories under control.
  3. Remember you can eat everything – just not in one day! It’s the holiday SEASON, so remember that there will be ample opportunity to enjoy your favorite dishes (whether it’s pie or twice baked potatoes or tasty drinks) throughout the next few months. Definitely enjoy the special items around you, especially if they’re homemade by loved ones, but remember that you don’t have to have it all at one sitting. Listen to your hunger cues and stop when you’re full so you avoid the post-meal guilt. Ask to take a slice of something else for the road if you won’t get a chance to eat it again, and enjoy it tomorrow. This will let you savor all your favorite flavors but spread the calories out over time.

I recently commented on this for a Prevention piece on how to save calories at Thanksgiving (check it out here), and I’m sure there will be many more helpful articles to come this season! Remember that your nutrition journey is not built in a day, and it certainly won’t be wrecked by a day either. Enjoy the things around you, try to eat mindfully, and continue focusing on the big picture of making overall healthy choices whenever possible– that will be a win in my book!

Is Your Food Dangerous? Top Food Safety Tips You Might Not Be Doing

We often take food safety for granted and assume that everything we buy is likely fine to eat until a predetermined expiration date, but the truth is that some foods have far higher risk of spreading foodborne illness.

Anyone with a weakened immune system, including children, the elderly, or anyone taking immunosuppressants or undergoing chemotherapy is at a particularly high risk of catching a foodborne illness, but even generally healthy individuals at at risk with certain foods or poorly prepared dishes.

My top 5 tips for ensuring your food is safe:

  1. Read about Recalls: Rely on trustworthy sources like FoodSafety.gov for recall information! This is a phenomenal way to stay updated about any foods that may have been tainted before they reach your kitchen. While many major recalls make headlines, smaller recalls can slip by under the radar, so FoodSafety.gov’s information can help you protect yourself.
  2. Choose Pasteurization: Always choose pasteurized goods including milk, cheeses, and fruit juices as the pasteurization method kills dangerous bacteria
  3. Avoid undercooked meat: Even though rare hamburgers and raw tuna taste like delicacies, many bacteria thrive at temperatures under 165 degrees Fahrenheit, so foods need to be well cooked to ensure safety.
  4. Take caution at buffets and salad bars: the huge selection can be tempting, but food that sits out without proper heating or cooling puts you at major risk of foodborne illness. If your hot food seems cooler than 140 degrees Fahrenheit or your cold salad bar items seem warmer than 40 degrees, bacteria can be growing all day long. Look for trustworthy locations where you see employees checking temperatures and bringing fresh trays out often. Also keep an eye out for servingware that falls into any serving dishes, carrying bacteria from whomever touched it last.
  5. Use your Judgment for Sell-By Dates: That beloved Sell By date on your package is only a guideline used by retailers to know when products are generally safe or should be tossed:

“Sell-By” dates are a guide for retailers. Although many products bear “Sell-By” dates, product dating is not a Federal requirement. While these dates are helpful to the retailer, they are reliable only if the food has been kept at a safe temperature during storage and handling.

— USDA Food Safety and Inspection Services

If a product was stored at an unsafe temperature at any time, that date is no longer a good estimate of how long the product will keep, so always evaluate your food carefully; if there is a change in odor or consistency, it may be a sign of spoilage. Also note that most refrigerated products should be used within 7-10 days of opening, so don’t keep your opened sour cream or salad dressing for 2 months just because the Sell By date hasn’t yet arrived!

Check out this article by Healthy Way featuring some foods that are particularly risky with input from a food safety professional as well as my recommendations for alternative options!

 

 

 

Always read the ingredients!

Are your foods what you THINk they are?

Healthy Way recently published a great piece about foods that aren’t quite what we think. From pancake syrup to wasabi to bacon bits, the food industry often brands products based on how we perceive them rather than the actual ingredients.

The best way to keep yourself informed is to read ingredient lists as much as possible. This will show you if you’re eating maple syrup or maple flavored corn syrup (yes, that’s what many generic ‘table syrups’ really are).

Our owner Kelsey is quoted discussing some of the secrets of instant oatmeal so take a look at the article on Healthy Way!