Meghan Charpentier, MS, MPH, is a program coordinator at the Cabarrus Health Alliance, a partner of the NCRC and the public health authority in Kannapolis and the surrounding county. She offers five tips to help you keep the joy of health at the center of your holiday celebrations.
1. Balanced eating year-round >>
Often times, we ‘save’ up for an event with delicious foods. We often put a high regard on having savory and sweet things and then overindulge. I hear a lot about people “saving up for the holidays.” If we listened to our bodies and enjoyed savory/indulgent foods (in reasonable amounts at reasonable times) throughout the year, we’d be less likely to overconsume and put this pressure on eating during the holidays. Mix in a little stress and peer pressure, and holiday gatherings can quickly lead to crescendo eating. But if we learn to find this balance before the holidays, we will be in a better spot.
2. Enjoy a holiday celebration walk before and/or after the meal >>
This will help add in minutes of physical activity and constant movement, which the body craves, as well as help stabilize all the energy you will, or have, consumed. Make it a family event!
3. Hydrate >>
Holiday drinks can contain a large amount of sugar and calories. Consider trading the eggnog for a glass of water to save calories for other favorite holiday treats! Plus, water can help you feel full so you don’t overeat during meals.
4. Bringing a dish? Add the extra fiber >>
Not only can you pack your contribution full with produce, but try experimenting with using flax or chia seeds to give it another nutritional boost of fiber plus omegas, too. They have minimal taste but pack a nutritious punch.
5. Back to the basics >>
Try to make the theme for this year’s holidays all about making things from scratch. While it will take more time, your health will thank you. Instead of canned or pre-packaged, try to do it yourself. From salad dressings to casseroles to desserts, making a recipe from scratch will not only taste better, but save tons of unnecessary sugar/fat/salt. Satisfaction all around!
6. Remembering fruit in the winter >>
Add in seasonal produce to salads like citrus or pomegranates. Make baked apples or pears with cinnamon with a Greek yogurt based-topping to level out the added sugar of traditional desserts – fruit is sweet enough!
For more tips, check out our advice from last year.