As it was with Thanksgiving, Christmas is a holiday with many traditions and expectations surrounding food. It’s a time for comfort and love with family and friends, however that does not mean it needs to feel out of control.
The most important thing about any holiday or gathering where food temptations arise is to make your choices. Don’t use the excuse that “well I already had a roll with dinner so I might as well have three glasses of wine and two slices of pie too.” One “bad” choice doesn't give permission for a hundred of them.
Let’s set some Christmas (and Eve!) “rules” or goals to aim for:
Eat all your normal meals. Knowing you’ll have wine or dessert or heavy foods at some point in your day doesn’t mean you should skip other meals to somehow save room or calories for those other foods. Your body is a machine that needs to be oiled every 3-4 hours in order to function properly and healthily.
Skipping meals can also lead to excess hunger which sometimes influences us to overeat or eat foods we wouldn’t normally, simply due to desperation.
If you think you’ll be enjoying some higher fat foods with a particular meal, aim to limit your fat intake in the other meals throughout the day.
Make sure veggies are present. When you’re in charge of cooking or attending meals at someone else’s home, request or bring veggies. Aim to have these veggies be as simple as possible, either steaming, baking/roasting, grilling, or sautéing them. Try to avoid veggies with sauces or dressings, as well as any that are in dishes or casserole forms. These versions can add additional calories, fats, or sugars that we may not be aware of.
Portion control. When loading up your plates, always start with protein and veggies first. Aim for about a palm-size of protein for women and between a palm to a hand-size for men. Next try to fill 1/3-1/2 of your remaining open plate with your simple veggies. Next make your choices - if you plan to have some wine and maybe some dessert, then opt out of the bread option. Sugars from wine or cocktails, as well as those in desserts are processed by our bodies in the same way that simple carbohydrates are, such as bread.
Try to plan, prep, or bring basic complex carbohydrate options such as quinoa, brown rice, or sweet potatoes rather than simple carbohydrates such as white potatoes, white rice, or bread, which can spike blood sugar because they do not last long in your digestive system.
Most importantly, enjoy your holiday festivities. The goal of a healthy life, in addition to physical health, encompasses emotional and mental health, both of which are influenced by our time spent with loved ones.
Keep your nutritional and fitness goals in mind, but don’t let those hinder your experience. Make choices that allow you to enjoy yourself but do not result in guilt or frustration.
Have a healthy and Merry Christmas, fam!
Your C5 Nutrition Intern,