Treasure the Moments This Holiday Season…

22 12 2016

Are you enjoying the hustle and bustle of the holiday season? Or are social gatherings and christmas-tree-grape-and-cheese-trayholiday treats creating anxiety and worry about maintaining your healthy habits? Navigating the holiday season can certainly be a challenge, but don’t let stress take away your joy or treasured time spent with family and friends.

Savoring the holidays doesn’t mean that you have to overindulge in anything and everything that comes along. Remember that our holiday season, no matter what holiday you may celebrate, is a time to reflect and ponder the gifts we have been given in our lives, and a time to share joy and peace with others. Of course traditional foods are often part of this reflection (our house would not be the same without my grandmother’s pizzelles and her Italian wedding soup!), and it is a perfect time to share these traditions with those around us. But what you choose to share and savor is completely up to you!  I have heard people say that they are avoiding holiday gatherings, or are worried that there will be no “good” foods to choose from. To this I say, if food is bringing about feelings of fear and guilt, then we have some work to do! Here are some tips to help reduce your anxiety about holiday gatherings, and enjoy the taste of the season:

 

  1. Realize that this time of year is a little different. Foods are different, schedules are different, feelings are different. Be aware of your own needs. This can be as simple as eating regularly, staying hydrated, and getting some rest. If you tend to get stressed out over the holidays, find a way to relax for a few minutes daily. Try a hot bath, a stroll outside in the fresh air, a power nap (no more than 20 minutes!), or even meditation/deep breathing. Gather your thoughts and remember what the holidays are really about.

 

  1. Before you head out to socialize, remember to take the edge off. Never go to a party famished! Have a small snack before you leave the house to help control hunger. An apple and a small handful of nuts can do the trick.

 

  1. Before you eat, make sure you check out everything that is available. Be mindful. Make a conscious decision to choose only the foods that you really want to try, and make one plate to nosh from for the evening. This way you can savor what you really want, and you won’t have to worry about trying everything (and inevitably feel guilty later).

 

  1. Socialize! That’s what you’re there for, right? Conversation is calorie free! Choose to socialize away from the food table, catch up with old friends, and make new ones. Chances are, if you are talking, you aren’t eating (well, because talking with your mouth full is NOT good party manners!).

 

  1. Go easy on the alcohol. Calories from wine, beer, and cocktails can really rack up, so be mindful. If you do drink, do so in moderation (approximately 1 drink for women and 2 drinks for men), and realize that the more you drink, the less you may be able to resist overeating.

 

  1. Bring something wonderful! Everyone is always worried that there will be no “healthy” food for them to eat. Simple solution: bring your own! A festive salad, a healthy appetizer, a pretty dessert. Most people love when guests bring gifts or things to share, so “wow” them with something healthy, pretty, and delicious! Here are some great ideas:

Kale Salad with Cranberry Almond Vinaigrette:

http://www.gimmesomeoven.com/kale-salad-warm-cranberry-vinaigrette-recipe/

Roasted Asparagus Wrapped in Prosciutto:

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/roasted-asparagus-wrapped-in-prosciutto-recipe.html

Grapes, Goat Cheese, and Nuts: 

http://inspiredrd.com/2014/11/easy-party-appetizer-nuts-with-goat-cheese-and-grapes/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+inspiredrd/EjAy+(Inspired+RD)

Spiced Hot Fruit Bake:

http://www.cottercrunch.com/gluten-free-spiced-hot-fruit-bake/

Pumpkin Pie Spiced Pecans:

http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/pumpkin-pie-spiced-pecans

  1. Be realistic. If you are on a weight loss journey, realize that losing weight over the holiday season may be a lofty goal. Focusing on weight maintenance, as well as mindfulness when it comes to food, may be better options. No one should feel anxious or guilty for enjoying time spent sharing holiday traditions with family and friends. Ditch the negative self-talk, cherish your time together, and know that your journey will continue well into the New Year.

 

Wishing you peace, love, and joy this season and always…

Cathy head shot     Cathy Shaw is a Licensed and Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

for the WV PEIA Weight Management Program

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