Mindful Eating During the Holiday Season

My Alcorn family, I hope you had a wonderful, memorable Thanksgiving with your family and are looking forward to Christmas. As I get older, I am appreciating more and more the concept that Christmas is Christ’s birthday and not mine. So often during the holidays, we look at food as delicious, but stressful and calorie dense. This mentality leaves little room for our brains to think about and appreciate the opportunity to have the food and the joy of celebrating it with our loved ones. I would imagine that if I visit most homes on that day, I would see the table decorated with all kinds of mouthwatering, delicious foods such as: turkey, dressings, mashed or roasted potatoes, sweet potatoes, brown rice, white rice, macaroni and cheese, quinoa, colorful vegetables, cakes/pies, cranberry sauce, party nuts, eggnog and the lists goes on.

According to Amanda Chan with Life Science, five ways to avoid overindulging over the holiday season include these tips:

1. Stick to healthy portions.

Just one plate of Christmas day (lunch or dinner) food is all you get. Fill up half your plate with any vegetables of choice, a quarter of it with carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes, brown rice, and a quarter of it with turkey, chicken or ham. The more colorful your plate, the better – so get lots of leafy greens, carrots, bell peppers and beets in your veggie spread. If you're going for the pie, pick fruit or pumpkin pies because they tend to have fewer calories than chocolate or pecan pies.

2. Eat before you indulge.

Don't starve yourself during the early part of Christmas day, with the idea that you're just "saving room" for all the food, or that this will make it okay for you to overeat later. It's a recipe for overeating.

If you're going to a Christmas day lunch, be sure you eat breakfast before. If you're going to a dinner, be sure you eat lunch or have a snack in the afternoon.

3. Substitute healthy ingredients for unhealthy ones.

There are plenty of ways to make the meals healthier. For cornbread dressing, add sautéed squash, chicken broth, herbs or roasted garlic to perk up the flavor, instead of all the butter.

For green bean casserole, swap out fried onions with toasted almonds for a less-oily alternative, and instead of having cranberry sauce, opt instead to make a cranberry salad. For dips, use Greek yogurt instead of sour cream — the consistency is similar, but yogurt has less fat and more protein. Avoid eating the skin on the turkey or chicken. Dark meat has a little more fat than white meat.

4. Drink lots of water and take a walk after eating.

Many times when people think they are hungry, they are actually just thirsty. By drinking lots of water throughout the day, you'll lower the risk of overeating.

5. Avoid snacking throughout the day.

Abide by the "out of sight, out of mind" mantra. Once you've filled your plate with food, cover it up the food and put it away. If the urge to snack is overpowering, pick an apple, celery stick, or baby carrots dipped in peanut butter and enjoy. When you snack throughout the day, it's easy to lose track of how much you've eaten.

Remember to take a walk with your family members after eating to get your metabolism going instead of lying on the couch and going through a guilt trip of how much you ate.

Have a blessed, memorable, and enjoyable holiday. Remember to “Eat healthy today and live to enjoy the next holiday.” Cheers!!!!

Article submitted by:

Edith Ezekwe, MS, RD, LD, MT (ASCP)

Instructor and Nutrition Specialist

Department of Human Sciences


https://www.nutrition411.com/articles/health-benefits-your-favorite-holiday-foods (Accessed 11/22/2016)

https://www.livescience.com/10284-healthy-thanksgiving-5-tips-avoid-overindulging.html (Accessed 11/22/2016)

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