While many of us expect to gain a few pounds over the holiday season, getting too far off your diet can have an impact on your physical and emotional well-being in the long run. This is especially true if you or an older loved one are pre-diabetic or have cardiovascular issues.
Making conscious decisions about what you are eating–or cooking for your aging loved ones–is of the utmost importance.
Tips to Avoid Health Setbacks
It’s not always easy to exercise self-control during the holidays, we know. But if you go to every dinner or party with a plan, you can avoid both weight gain and health setbacks once the New Year arrives.
Here are some great tips to consider including in your plan for navigating this holiday season:
- Reduce Alcohol. One of the easiest ways to cut calories this holiday season is to limit the amount of alcohol you consume. Nursing a wine spritzer instead of a glass of wine or a liquor-filled cocktail is a healthier and less fattening option. By adding a few ounces of club soda to a white or a rosé, you save yourself calories and still get to enjoy a fun and refreshing drink with friends and family.
- Enlist a Buddy. Having a friend, spouse, parent or child to help keep you on track and hold you accountable can have a positive effect on your waistline. Socializing with friends and family is especially important for seniors. If you ask your aging parent to be your buddy they may enjoy tagging along with you to holiday parties and festivities.
- Make Smart Choices. Eating healthy doesn’t necessarily mean depriving yourself of the food you love; it just means making smart choices. Choose healthy white meat instead of dark turkey, which has about twice amount of fat. Add veggies to your plate before loading up on carbs and sweets. This helps to ensure that you are eating a nutritious and well balanced meal.
- Take Your Health Into Consideration. Seniors are particularly susceptible to the consequences of eating calorie-laden holiday foods, especially those seniors who have dietary restrictions due to diabetes. If you have diabetes, make sure to check your blood sugar faithfully during the holidays to avoid any problems. Managing diabetes during the holiday season can be challenging, but not impossible.
- Limit Sodium Intake. It is also important to limit sodium intake as too much salt can lead to a variety of health issues, such as heart failure and stroke. If you are shopping for holiday meals you’ll be cooking, pay close attention to food labels and make sure to substitute ingredients for their low-sodium counterparts. Using herbs and spices, like rosemary and cloves, to flavor dishes instead of salt or butter is a great healthy substitute. Low sodium condiments, soups and canned vegetables you might need to use in casseroles are fairly easy to find.
Build a Better Plate
It is especially important for seniors to make informed dietary choices, but people of all ages can reap the same benefits of building a better plate of food during the holidays.
Planning ahead and paying attention to what you are putting on your plate is usually all it takes. The American Association of Diabetes Educators has some great tips for what you should avoid and what you should add to your plate:
- Limit starchy foods. If mashed potatoes, a sweet potato casserole, and bread rolls are all on the table, choose just one or take a tiny serving of each.
- Watch the sauce. Stick with raw, grilled, or steamed fruits and veggies rather than those served in gravy, creams, or butter.
- Portion control. Keep your portions small and try to avoid going back for seconds.
Happy and Healthy
The holidays are a time of celebration, marked by friends, family, and good food – what could be a better time to celebrate smart and healthy dietary choices? Although it may seem impossible to stay on track during the holidays, it just takes a few adjustments to have a happy and healthy season.
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