By David Martin, President and CEO of VeinInnovations
Eating is an elemental physical and social urge. Food is almost always shared; mealtimes are an opportunity to come together. Food and family are inseparable. Surprising our spouse with dinner on a Monday night or preparing our kids’ school lunches are small but significant ways we show our love. Cooking a meal and providing nourishment for our loved ones is a profound way to show affection and altruism, a way to share and nourish one another. When gather during Thanksgiving and Christmas, cooking is a way we show our love for family we may not see the rest of the year. It’s a special occasion and we treat ourselves to rich, sweet dishes.
On average, Americans gain one to two pounds every holiday season. It doesn’t sound so bad until you realize that most of us don’t lose the weight, we just add to it the next year. If you’re starting the September Pledge or just hoping to avoid the traditional weight gain, here are a few tips for staying healthy while enjoying food with family this year.
Avoid Overeating During the Holidays
- Add at least one healthy habit to your life before the holidays hit. Try adding twice-weekly walks at the park, start carrying a water bottle and stay hydrated, or cut sodas out of your diet. Carry healthy snacks, like nuts, apple slices, or carrot sticks to work and snack regularly so you don’t binge on carb and starch heavy meals at lunch. In the push and pull of the holidays, we forget to tend to our health. Incorporating a good habit now makes it more likely you’ll continue when the holidays hit.
- Don’t bring home Halloween Candy to early; plan to purge the house of candy on November 1st. No one wants to run out of candy when trick-or-treaters come knocking, but don’t buy candy so early that you end up having to buy it again, because your family got into it. And don’t hang onto extra sweets after All Hallow’s Eve. You don’t need it and if you have it in the house, chances are you’ll eat it. Pick a few favorites out of the pile and donate the rest. (This advice is for people without trick-or-treaters of their own. If your kid comes home with a pillowcase full of sweets, here are a few tricksfor parents. Good luck!)
- Plan your “splurges.” Thanksgiving and Christmas are modern feast days and it is fine to indulge if you’re lucky enough to be able to. In the end, Thanksgiving is just one day. Don’t feel guilty about your third helping of stuffing and the generous amount of gravy with which you’ve covered it. But before the feast, eat right. “It’s Thanksgiving, so I can eat what I want,” should only apply to one day, not the week before or after. Stock the pantry with healthy fruits and veggies for meals before Turkey Day and to enjoy with leftovers on Black Friday. (Same goes for the end of December!)
- Pick your favorite sweets and steer clear of filler. If your uncle’s pumpkin pie is the best part of Thanksgiving, help yourself to a big slice with whipped cream. If your aunt is still valiantly bringing her rock-like cookies to the Christmas Eve celebration, ignore them. Eat what you love and don’t waste calories on mediocre sweets you don’t particularly care for. Skipping the filler means you’ve got room to fill up on the good stuff later.