The season of joy, giving, and sharing is upon us. For many, food is deeply intertwined in our gatherings and celebrations with family, friends, and neighbors. It always seems to be a struggle to strike the proper balance between enjoying and overindulging. Here are a few key concepts to keep in mind to make it through the season without feeling the need to jump on a diet bandwagon come Jan. 1.
Remember the essentials of a balanced diet
Start each day with a healthy breakfast, including complex carbohydrates and lean protein. Good examples are whole wheat toast with peanut butter; oatmeal or whole grain cereal with milk; fruit and yogurt; or a whole grain English muffin with an egg.
Stay hydrated throughout the day, sipping water wherever you are.
Fill up with fiber from whole foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains.
In reality, most of our time spent during the season is devoted to work and the hustle and bustle associated with the celebrations. There are likely only specific occasions during we need to stay on top of our game. When the situation arises, follow these tips:
Surviving holiday parties
Don't skip meals to "save up" on calories. It's a poor strategy that leaves you overly hungry and likely to overeat when you're surrounded with lots of tempting foods later.
If you are concerned about there being a healthy option on hand, bring a dish to share, such as raw vegetables and hummus, a Greek yogurt based dip with whole-grain pita chips, or a fresh fruit tray.
Survey the table before making your selections. Choose items that you don't typically have available outside of the holidays. Keep portions small; one taste might be enough to quench a craving.
Don't let one slip-up get you down. If you overindulge at a party one evening, get right back on track the next day. The true pitfalls occur when slip-ups turn into a green light to consume everything in sight and/or become a routine occurrence.
Wise food choices are definitely essential during the holidays, but remaining active is another important piece of the weight maintenance puzzle. Try to maintain your normal eating and exercise routine?or add some light activity to the holidays, if you don't usually exercise (get your doctor's approval before starting an exercise routine). Keep all things in perspective and recognize the truth to the quote, "People are so worried about what they eat between Christmas and the New Year, but they really should be worried about what they eat between the New Year and Christmas." Take a step back and enjoy the reason for the season.
Very Veggie Dip
Serves 20 (2 tablespoons each)
All you need:
1 (10 oz) package frozen cut spinach, thawed
1 (17 oz) container plain Greek yogurt
1 package French Onion dip mix
Various cut-up vegetables and/or whole wheat baked pita chips
All you do:
1. Place thawed spinach in a dish towel and squeeze out remaining water. Continue process until spinach is dry.
2. Mix spinach with yogurt and soup mix until well blended.
3. Serve with a variety of fresh cut-up vegetables or pita chips.
Nutrition information per serving (calculated for dip only): Calories: 20, Carbohydrate: 2 g, Cholesterol: 0 mg, Dietary Fiber: 1 g, Fat: 0 g, Protein: 3 g, Saturated Fat: 0 g, Sodium: 97 mg, Sugar: 1 g