Ten Holiday Nutrition Survival Tips

Amanda Bontempo

I always encourage celebrating food that tastes good and does you good. Wellness begins from within; eating real, unprocessed and nourishing food allows you to live a healthier, happier and more energized life. The holiday season can be difficult to navigate with cookies constantly in the office and parties with endless food. Anyone, a cancer survivor or not, can benefit from the following tips.

Schedule rest. Lack of sleep leads to weight gain, especially around the belly. Try to stick to a consistent bedtime for better, more restful sleep. Time can feel like the enemy during the holiday season when you’re running around with an endless list of to-dos. Take three minutes, just three minutes, to reset, energize and refocus. A quick timeout helps you to be more productive and more present. Suddenly, time is on your side.

Stay hydrated. Humans have a poor thirst mechanism. Plan to drink water before meals and between alcoholic drinks.  Always always keep water out to remind you to drink. Make it a little interesting with a slice of orange peel and star anise or a sprig of rosemary and lemon peel to add extra flavor to the water.

Do not skip meals. Eating small meals or snacks with regularity allows us to remain in control of our food choices. Don’t try to cleanse or detox with restrictive diets. Denying your body of regular meals and necessary nutrients stresses your system and upsets your metabolism. Skipping meals also encourages an unhealthy binge/purge cycle. Instead, always pack a food first-aid kit including healthy snacks like pistachios, dried apricots or coconut granola bites.

Decrease stress. Stress can be unavoidable so it's important to deal with it in a non-food way to create a substitute for emotional eating. See a movie, take a bubble bath, paint your nails, go for a walk. If you do end up emotionally eating, skip the guilt trip. Feeling guilty or punishing yourself will only add more stress and self-criticism. Remember, you can start your day over at any time. 

Practice portion control. Use smaller plates and survey the food options before strategizing the items you really want to savor. If eating is difficult because of a poor appetite, eating off of smaller plates is important to avoid intimidation by large portions of food. Smaller plates provide a more attainable goal.

Get moving. Plan to incorporate physical activity daily in your holiday errands. Burn off some of the calories and get a boost from exercise-released endorphins. Try incorporating family games like touch football or tag. Dancing beats dessert!

Prepare healthy dishes. Bring a dish to a holiday gathering that you know is a healthy option like green beans almondine, cranberry pecan quinoa, or herb-roasted vegetables with a yogurt-based topping.

Mingle with others. Holiday gatherings are meant to be social. Enjoy the company, engage with friends and family and avoid hovering by the food all evening

Drink responsibly. If you choose to imbibe, remember that alcoholic drinks always come with carbs and calories. Skip sugary cocktails that easily cloud your head. The more you drink, the less inhibition you have and the more likely you won’t survey food options anymore before indulging.

Plan ahead. Eat a small healthy meal or snack before a party like a small salad or broth-based soup. Prepare healthy snacks.

Party healthy this holiday season!

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