Worried about staying on track this Holiday Season? Home Base is here to help!
Nutrition Tips for Finishing Out the Year on Track
By Ali Barahona and Nichole Lipsey
The holidays are a special time of year. Whether holiday traditions typically involve uniting with family and friends, preparing special holiday recipes, spending some relaxing time alone, or traveling to someplace new, this holiday season will undoubtedly look and feel different than most. While many of the changes may be out of our control, there are many positive choices we can make that are within our control.
Home Base is here to help you feel healthy and enjoy this holiday season. Check out our recipes and nutrition tips below to help you feel your best this holiday season:
Enjoy a snack before you bake/cook
Having a snack before you bake or cook be a helpful way to prevent you from becoming overly hungry. They key to choosing the best snack is to pair two items together: a source of protein and fruit, vegetable, or starch. For example, enjoy hummus with veggies and crackers, spread some peanut butter on a banana, or try a cheese stick and an apple. Pick a combination that you’ll enjoy, and then have fun preparing those favorite recipes of yours!
Adjust recipes for the amount of people in attendance
With travel restrictions and fear of spreading COVID-19, this year’s holiday gatherings may be a bit smaller than usual. Adjusting servings to reflect the amount of people in attendance can help reduce food waste and prevent the urge to overeat in order to not waste food. If you normally cook for ten but this year will be cooking for three, take a moment to figure out how the recipes may need to change. If you are not the chef, discuss this in advance with the person who does the cooking or meal planning.
Check your plate sizes
As humans, we often “eat with our eyes.” We have a plate and we fill that plate. That’s exactly why being mindful of our plate size can help influence our portion sizes! The challenge is that our plate sizes have continued to increase over the years, while our nutrition needs have not. The traditional 1960s dinner plate measured about 9” diameter. By 2009, the average dinner plate had increased to a 12” diameter. With so many delicious foods around the holidays, it is even more tempting to want to fill our plates. Paying attention to our plate size can help us find a way to enjoy everything and still eat a satisfying amount.
Balance your plate
At Home Base, we know that food brings people together and that eating healthfully is about balance. While not every food has the same nutritional value, balancing your plate similar to the picture below can be a helpful way to enjoy everything and still feel nourished after. A general tip is to first cover half of your plate with a variety of non-starchy vegetables and fruits, and then ensure that there is a lean source of protein, healthy fat/oil, and whole grains/starches. This combination will help prevent a spike in blood sugars. It will also help you feel full and satisfied for longer. Even if there is a part of the plate that you don’t typically enjoy, perhaps you could at least try a small helping.
Enjoy your favorite foods with Mindful Eating
Consuming less dinner to compensate for more pie is not the answer. No matter what holiday food is your favorite, may it be a dessert or something else, we want you to enjoy it! Mindful Eating can help. This practice encourages us to engage all of our sense, which can ultimately improve our mood, stress levels, and overall well-being.
Decide ahead of time what you’re going to eat
Plan ahead what you’re going to put on your plate, make a plan before the meal when you’re not starving. At lunch for example when you know what’s going to be served for dinner and you are full, plan your meal. Writing down your plan on a pad of paper or in your phone can help you remember and stick with it. Make a plan to eat breakfast and lunch and not just wait around all day for pre-dinner snacks and dinner. Have something substantial with protein, carbs, and some fat to keep you full
throughout the day so you don’t get too hungry.
Avoid eating right before bed
Having about two hours before bed without food can help support a more restful night sleep and encourage our bodies to have an appetite for breakfast in the morning. If you go to grab something to eat later at night, is it always because you are physically hungry, or could something else be going on? Perhaps you are bored or stressed? Playing a game with your family or taking some time for mindfulness activities before bed can help you take your mind off snacks and late-night stress eating.
If you are maintaining sobriety this holiday season, share that information with one or multiple people who you will be surrounded by; this can help create a support system for you and make those around you less likely to offer you alcohol. If you are trying to cut back on your alcohol consumption but attending a holiday festivity where alcohol will be served, here are some tips to help you be safe and mindful with alcohol consumption:
- Keep in mind that serving sizes are different for men and women. It is recommended that women only have up to 1 serving of alcohol a day while the recommendation for men is up to 2 servings a day.
- Pour your own drink and be aware of serving sizes. One 12-ounce beer, one 5-ounce glass of wine, and one 1.5-ounce shot of hard liquor all have about the same amount of alcohol, and each equal one serving of alcohol. Be mindful that the alcohol content among different types of beer and wine can vary.
- Drink in moderation; sip your drink slowly. If you see you still have alcohol in your cup, you likely will not refill it.
- Out of sight, out of mind. Positioning yourself farther from the bar or where the drinks are can help reduce counterproductive cues to get a refill.
- Water, water, water! Drink water between your drinks to stay hydrated and slow down drinking. You can simply drink water instead of alcohol as well. Or try these festive non-alcoholic recipes:
This is a great time of year to relax and enjoy some treats, but it’s also a great time of year to focus on yourself and to achieve your goals or to continue working toward them. Finish out the year stronger than you started it, and remember that no matter how tough things get, you’re tougher!