Health for the Holidays: Navigating Parties and Meals

The holiday season is right around the corner, and for most of us, that means an abundance of food-focused parties and celebrations. We’ve partnered with registered dietitian, Alissa Palladino, at Good Measure Meals to help you navigate (and still enjoy!) those holiday meals while staying on track with your health and fitness goals.

Fuel for Your Party

While it can be tempting to “save up” calories before a big holiday meal by skipping breakfast and/or lunch, arriving famished actually sets you up to overeat. Instead, have a small snack that includes protein a couple hours beforehand. This takes the edge off hunger and allows you to make better choices at the party. Try:

  • A handful of almonds, or your favorite nut
  • An apple with peanut butter or string cheese
  • Greek yogurt or cottage cheese with fruit
Apply the Plate Method

By using the Plate Method, you can build a balanced meal at any holiday spread or buffet while fitting in your favorite foods. Here’s how it works:

  • Fill ½ your plate with salad and/or veggies, such as string beans, carrots, or spinach
  • Fill ¼ of the plate with lean protein (turkey is an easy choice on Thanksgiving!)
  • Fill ¼ of your plate with starchy foods including traditional holiday favorites, like mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole and/or stuffing
Bring a Healthy Dish

Whether you are a guest or a host, the best way to ensure there’s at least one nutritious dish at your holiday meal is to bring it yourself! By preparing seasonal produce in creative ways, healthy holiday eating doesn’t have to mean sacrificing flavor. Here are some ideas your family and friends are sure to love:

  • Roasted Vegetables: Try fall favorites such as Brussels sprouts, carrots, butternut squash, and parsnips. Keep it simple with just a little bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Or dress it up with a drizzle of balsamic reduction, dried fruit, and chopped nuts.
  • Seasonal Salad: Top a green salad with seasonal fruit such as apples, oranges or cranberries. Add toasted nuts such as pecans or walnuts for a crunch and dose of heart-healthy fats. Sprinkle with a flavorful cheese such as goat or parmesan. Finally, lightly toss with an olive oil-based vinaigrette.
  • Festive Fruit: Add a produce-rich option to the dessert spread by baking apples or pears. Sprinkle with oats, cinnamon, nutmeg and a little bit of honey.
Sip Smart

From eggnog to spiced apple cider, holiday beverages can be a sneaky source of empty calories and added sugar. Plus, too much alcohol may lower your inhibitions around food, leading to overeating. Skip the hangover with these tips to sip smarter: 

  • Drink alcohol in moderation (2 drinks for men, 1 for women)
  • Alternate alcoholic beverages with water or other naturally sugar-free drinks, such as seltzer
  • Use flavored sparkling water as a base for lighter cocktails or “mocktails”
  • Stay hydrated (thirst often masquerades as hunger!)
Get Moving!

Finding ways to fit in physical activity goes a long way towards staying healthy during the holidays. Exercise can offset excess calories from a big holiday meal, boost your mood and lower stress. Create a healthy holiday tradition with your family and set a positive example for the next generation with these ideas:

  • Sign up for local turkey trot (if you’re in Georgia, the Atlanta Track Club’s Thanksgiving Day Half-Marathon and 5k are great events)
  • Organize a post-meal family walk or touch football game
  • Plan active games like charades
Finally, Shift the Focus

Don’t let all the focus on food take away from the real meaning of the holidays- spending quality time with your friends and family!

We hope these tips help you have a happy and healthy holiday season. Stay tuned next month for “dietitian approved” recipes to share with your loved ones.

For more support during the holiday season and beyond, Good Measure Meals offers a full range of resources, from ready-to-eat fresh meal plans to individual nutrition counseling. Check out their website to learn more about available services, and their blog for healthy recipes, insights, and inspiration.

Give yourself a break from the kitchen this season and enjoy 10% off with code MIZUNO at checkout.

Alissa Palladino, MS, RDN, LD, ACSM-CPT

Alissa is a Registered Dietitian at Good Measure Meals where she helps people achieve and maintain their health goals. A veggie lover and avid runner with a number of half and full marathons under her belt, she believes the best form of exercise is the one you enjoy and the best nutrition plan is one that fits into your lifestyle.

Published: November 2018

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