The holiday season is a time for family, friends and, of course, food! But just because you’re trying to avoid weight gain and stick to healthy lifestyle choices doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the festivities.
“Between Thanksgiving and the New Year, our days are filled with gatherings centered around food. But with some creativity and planning, you can still stay on track with your health goals,” says Jenna Koroly, MS, RD, LDN, a registered dietitian with the Center for Weight Management and Metabolic Surgery at Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital.
Below Koroly offers a list of tips that will allow you to maintain health through nutritious foods, while still including sweet treats. “This list features tips inspired by our bariatric surgery patients,” she says. “These tips can apply to anyone who is interested in an overall nutritious lifestyle, which does include occasional indulgences. I encourage everyone to try one or two this holiday season!”
- Prepare vegetable-based dishes to increase fiber. Roast seasonal vegetables such as squash, sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, beets and broccoli. Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle on your favorite seasonings such as rosemary or sage.
- Stay hydrated. Sip on water in between your meals. Have a seasonal tea, such as pumpkin spice, at dessert time to better control portion sizes of sweets. Take a protein shake with you to buffet-style gatherings as a fall back option.
- Start a tradition with family or friends that is not food-focused. Try a long walk after the main meal, a turkey bowl football game, karaoke, charades or holiday crafts.
- Have a light meal or fiber and protein-rich snack before your main meal or before a party to better control hunger and portion sizes. Consider an apple with 2 tsp peanut butter, raw vegetables with 2 Tbsp hummus or 1/4 cup of nuts or seeds with cinnamon sprinkled on top.
- Bake “mini” desserts for portion control. Use a teaspoon to divide cookie dough when baking cookies, cut brownies/pies/cakes into 2 x 4-inch pieces and use mini muffin tins to bake.
- Make desserts that feature a fruit, vegetable or protein. Try apples or pears with cinnamon and nutmeg, zucchini bread, avocado chocolate mousse and black bean brownies. Get creative with a sweet potato dessert bar, using mashed sweet potato as the base and almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate chips and cinnamon as toppings.
- Chew well and take your time. Put your utensil down and place your hands under the table after taking a bite. Appreciate the people, music and ambience around you.
- Keep nutritious snacks at the office. Have nuts, seeds, raw fruits and vegetables, Greek yogurt and roasted bean snacks on hand for a satiating option when tempting desserts are brought in.
- Consider what your two favorite days during the holiday season are. The holidays often get stretched out for a month, rather than a few days. Plan ahead by choosing your two favorite days of gatherings, celebrations or parties and give yourself the most flexibility on these days.
- Think about how you can increase physical activity to balance out holiday celebrations. Try setting a goal of at least four days per week of walking on inclines, body weight exercises or free weight/resistance band workouts. Go to exercise classes with a buddy and get the whole family involved in sports on the weekend.
“It can be simple and enjoyable to practice your New Year’s resolutions year-round by balancing out nutritious options and sweet treats,” says Koroly. “And, if you increase your favorite forms of physical activity, both your body and mind will benefit.”
Are you overweight and in need of more nutrition advice this holiday season and beyond? Call 617-983-7280 to see if your weight qualifies you to meet with a registered dietitian at the Center for Weight Management and Metabolic Surgery at Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital.