The holiday season has arrived and there is nothing my family gets more excited about than the food – yummy, yummy, pumpkin pies and gingerbread cookies! Although holiday food is arguably better tasting than its routine counterparts, it certainly comes with a price that can last all Winter long. I am incredibly careful about the food items I put on my family’s table, in addition to keeping a keen eye on my husband’s blood sugar. Because of this, I have adopted a “holiday eating game plan” that has helped my family stay on track all the way into the new year. Hopefully, you will be able to implement some of these options to keep your family happy and healthy throughout the season too.
There are a few things to take into consideration when figuring out what to cook your family for holiday dinners or accepting an invitation to someone else’s house. If you are going to have dinner at someone else’s house, consider taking a healthy dish that pairs well with the menu. Extra food is always welcomed, as you never know when an additional guest or three may show up without having RSVP’d. This way, if there is nothing else that fits your family’s dietary needs, the kids can always shove their face with Mom’s famous cabbage slaw as “it’s their favorite and she never makes it!” This will cut out any uncomfortable conversations you would need to have pertaining to the food.
Before setting any plans for the holidays remember to keep your eating habits in line with the rest of the year. This will help keep everyone’s blood sugar regular and avoid any discomfort. Whoever said you “had” to eat a lot for holiday dinners just because there was a lot of food around? By eating routine portions throughout the day, you will keep your body feeling normal. You can always freeze the leftovers and have them for the next several months. Eat slow to allow your brain time to tell your body that it is full. This will ensure you do not overfill your stomach, because no one is watching what you are putting on your plate – their attention is focused on conversation and newborns.
Do not miss out on your favorite foods, especially the ones you cannot get any other time of year; just make sure to eat them in small portions. My rule of thumb is to decide between a sweet, bread, or potato. Then again, if I cannot decide, I will have a couple bites of each and wrap the rest up for the following day. I typically will eat the veggies first, then meat, then carbs and starch. I also limit or avoid alcohol on days where I know I will be surrounded by food. With all the other sweet and hearty items you intake over the holidays, why add more stress to your body?
Time to jump into the biggest can of worms – SWEETS. Goodness, gracious. Why did they even make such an amazing thing? There you are, happy with what your body is digesting, basking in the nostalgia of being home at Christmas, and your old maid Aunt sitting across the table sits down a plate of fresh baked cookies. The peanut butter and chocolate smells seem to waft in your direction as if completely on purpose by some magical force. Your Aunt takes a big bite of a cookie, as pieces of it crumble onto her plate and fall on her napkin. And there you are… your mind has very firmly demanded that you give up all inhibitions and go to see what is on the dessert table. Are you with me? It’s fine! Just be sure to keep in mind your holiday game plan. Eat small portions of anything you choose and wrap up any sweets that you do not really need.
Lastly, it is so important that you remember to eat! Whether you are bouncing around the kitchen cooking or running logs out to the fire for your grandmother, it is important that you do not forget this simple rule. You are likely burning calories amid any activity you are partaking so, make sure to drink plenty of water and stay hydrated as well. A final tip that seems to work well with my family is to plan out healthy meals for the days surrounding the holidays. Having a light menu the days between Christmas and New Years tends to work best. This will keep your stomach grounded and able to support a few nights of ingredients it is not used to. By following this “holiday eating game plan,” you and your family should be on the road to a season full of healthy bodies and lots of smiles.