Healthy Food Tips into the New Year!

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” How about some healthy food tips, for those of us striving to take good care of ourselves and unwilling to lose the ground we’ve worked hard to gain? With regard to our food lifestyle, holidays, parties and everyday busyness can sabotage our best practices and intentions.

Here are 10 ideas for avoiding frustrating pitfalls during festivities, holiday gatherings, office parties and church potlucks. Why not carry some of these practices into the New Year?

1.  Don’t skip meals. Fasting or skipping meals can backfire, leading to poor food choices and overeating. Before attending any group event, eat some fresh, real food, perhaps something with protein, in order to stabilize your blood sugar. Never leave home without a nourishing snack.

2.  Contribute a healthy dish. Bring a dish you really like and can enjoy to ensure at least one nutritious choice is available.

3.  Use a small plate. Smaller plates seem to encourage better portion control. Fill it carefully and with that which gives you true enjoyment.

4.  Begin with veggies. Start with salad, something fresh and whole. Find unprocessed (or minimally) options, such as nuts, legumes, fruit and colorful vegetables.

5.  Save the splurge for the grand finale. Scan the dessert table and select a favorite or two carefully that you might not have at any other time of year. Consider splitting with a friend since you might end up satisfied with just a few bites. Once we’ve enjoyed something sweet, we tend to want more sugar, so holding out until later can ward off the temptation for more.

6.  Visit with people. Be present for the people you get to see. Engage! Get to know someone new or find out about a friend you haven’t seen in a while. Talk with someone away from the food to avoid the temptation to keep eating.

7.  Keep moving. After dinner, take a walk, pull out a board game, a deck of cards, play charades or organize a group ball game or sport. Any form of physical activity will help you feel better quickly and get an improved night’s sleep.

8.  Slow down. Chew your food slowly and savor each delicious bite waiting at least 10 minutes before thinking about a second serving. You may find yourself already quite satisfied!

9.  Drink water, seltzer or tea. Avoid high-calorie, sugar-laden beverages, void of nutritional value. You could even offer to bring festive punch or spritzers, naturally flavored with fruit, balsamic vinegar or stevia.

10.  Don’t fret. Be gracious with yourself. If you end up feeling lousy about (over)indulgences, get back in the saddle. Return to your normal pattern of good self-care, proper sleep and hydration and reset your tastebuds with healthy food habits.

By thinking ahead and forming a game plan, holiday and party food can wreak less havoc on our minds and bodies. Consider limiting splurges to maybe one event per week, rather than one a four-day or month-long feast. Enjoy yourself, the memories, your loved ones and celebrate. Don’t beat yourself up if you’ve gone overboard.

You are just 3 hours away from your next healthy food choice or only one night’s sleep. Seek healthy patterns, not perfection.

Healthy holiday food tips and strategies can help us bypass the junk, enjoy the people and exercise self care when it comes to nutritious food choices.

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