7 Healthy Holiday Eating Tips

Enjoy this festive time of year without hurting your health
Author: Donna Behen

Making healthy food and beverage choices is a year-round priority for anyone with a bleeding disorder since good nutritional habits are necessary for maintaining an ideal weight, keeping joints healthy and preventing joint bleeds.

But choosing wisely is particularly challenging at this time of year, when a steady stream of family gatherings, neighborhood open houses, office parties and other occasions tempt you with lots of high-calorie foods and drinks. These strategies can help ensure that your holidays are not only happy, but healthy, too.

1. Eat a healthy snack ahead of time.

Showing up to a holiday party with an empty stomach is a surefire way to overdo it at the buffet table. About an hour before you go, have a light meal that’s high in protein and fiber (for example, a hard-boiled egg and an apple, or almond butter on whole-grain toast). Taking the edge off your hunger will make it easier for you to resist all the temptations.

2. BYO healthy option

When going to an informal gathering at a friend or family member’s house, the best way to make sure you have something nutritious to eat is to bring it yourself. Offer to bring a tray of crudites and dip, a fruit salad or a vegetable side dish.

3. Watch those holiday beverages

It’s easy to overdo liquid calories because they don’t make you feel as full as an equal number of calories from solid food. And seasonal favorites can pack a lot of calories, sugar and fat. For example, just one 8-ounce cup of eggnog can have as many as 300 calories, nearly 20 grams of fat and a whopping 40 grams of sugar! For a healthier drink, try seltzer with a splash of cranberry juice instead.

4. Limit alcohol

Alcoholic holiday drinks are also often high in calories (an 8-ounce hot buttered rum can have more than 300), plus drinking lowers inhibitions, leading to unhealthy eating choices. Your best strategy is to choose one low-calorie alcoholic drink, like a white wine spritzer, and drink it as slowly as you can.

5. Plan ahead

There’s no need to completely avoid the holiday foods you look forward to eating all year. If you watch what you eat earlier in the day, you can save room in your calorie budget for a few of your mom’s holiday cookies or your favorite seasonal hors d’oeuvres.

6. Be realistic

If you’re trying to lose weight, don’t set yourself up for failure by planning to slim down during the holiday season. A better approach is to focus on not gaining any more weight and then get back to your weight-loss regimen once the holidays are over.

7. Don’t focus on the food

The holiday season can often seem like one giant eating fest, but there are plenty of healthy, non-eating activities, too. Organize a hike, or plan to meet up with friends at the gym. Offer to take an older friend or family member shopping. Find a volunteer opportunity nearby and spend a few hours on the weekend giving back to others. If you shift the emphasis away from food, you may also end up with a renewed appreciation for the holidays.

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