Nutrition Corner: Eating Through the Holidays

The holiday season is upon us and the festivities have begun. We may be tempted to break many of the health habits we have kept all year and indulge a bit here and there. And that’s ok.

Food is a part of the celebration of family, friends, thankfulness, and reflection. It is important to feel that you can eat, enjoy yourself, and still feel your best. Here are some tips that may help you throughout the season.

1. Did you know that your brain and gut are in constant communication with each other? Hunger is partly controlled by a part of your brain called the hypothalamus. Before going to a party, eat a small healthy meal at home to ward off any hunger pangs.

2. Navigate the buffet table strategically. What really looks delicious to you? Avoid the sugary sauces and creamy cheeses, these food items are high in calories. Harder cheeses are lower in fat than soft cheeses, and proteins combined with a carbohydrate are a way to keep your blood sugar levels stable.

3. Alcohol. Drinks abound at parties and are high in calories, making sure you drink with food can help minimize the amount you have and stave off a hangover. Proteins from meat, such as chicken and fish, supply your body with amino acids that can help your liver metabolize alcohol. Including some vegetables will help increase your vitamin intake for the night.

4. Mindful eating. Slow down and chew your food thoroughly. It takes your brain around 20 minutes to register the signals from your stomach letting you know when you’re full.

5. Remember to laugh, focus on the people that you appreciate, and have fun!

6. Eating the correct portion size can also help you maintain all the hard work that you did earlier in the year. Focus on having one serving, unless it is a healthy vegetable. Below are some ways to remember portion size:

Meat - 3 oz. = A deck of cards

Fish - 3 oz. = A checkbook

Cheese - 1 oz. = Four dice

Potato = A computer mouse

Grains - ½ cup = A cupcake wrapper

Fresh fruit - ½ cup = A light bulb

Mixed nuts = A golf ball

Pasta - 1 cup = A tennis ball

Slice of bread = A cassette tape

Slice of cake/pie = The length and width of 2 fingers

Chocolate - 1oz. = A pack of dental floss