I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving. I hope you had a chance to reconnect with family and friends. I hope you had a chance to enjoy cooking you haven’t had for a while. I hope your Thanksgiving was memorable and full of joy, and I hope you were able to eat healthy during your Thanksgiving. All these things DRS hopes for you with absolute sincerity.
It’s important to remember we are only in the middle of the holiday season and there is more we have to do. We have to stay vigilant we have to be stronger than our excuses.
It’s easy to get swept up in the holiday season. The combination of religious and national celebrations can and is often infectious. However, the feasts and parties that mark the holiday season can tax the arteries and strain the waistline.
According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the average amount of weight American’s generally gain during the holidays is about two to three pounds. That doesn’t sound like much, however, given the additional Covid restrictions, that amount could easily increase by more and those “few pounds” can be difficult to lose. This additional weight gain can come from something as simple as an extra slice of pecan, sweet potato, pumpkin pie, holiday cookies, alcohol, and many other treats. It’s important to watch those treats as they can not only cause additional weight gain, but can also cause imbalances in your system which could affect your heart, inflammation, and diabetes maintenance.
Surviving the Holidays
Remember, you don’t need to deprive yourself, and deny yourself the enjoyment of the holiday season. Keep in mind that healthy eating also has an emotional component to it. If you feel guilty every time you eat, you are defeating the purpose of a healthy eating lifestyle.
A healthy eating lifestyle is supposed to make you feel good about yourself as well as allow your body to operate better. According to medical news today. A healthy eating lifestyle will help reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. It can also boost your mood and provide you with more energy.
Eating healthy over the holidays, and in general, will help with:
Heart Disease and Stroke According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death for adults in the United States. The American Heart Association (AHA) states that almost half of U.S. adults live with some form of cardiovascular disease. High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a growing concern in the U.S. The condition can lead to heart attack, heart failure, and stroke. Some sources report that it is possible to prevent up to 80% of premature heart disease and stroke diagnoses with lifestyle changes, such as increasing physical activity and healthy eating.
Reduce Cancer Risk Eating foods that contain antioxidants can reduce a person’s risk of developing cancer by protecting cells from damage. Free Radicals in the body increase the risk of cancer, but antioxidants help remove them to lower the likelihood of this disease. Many phytochemicals found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes act as antioxidants, including beta-carotene, lycopene, and vitamins A, C, and E. According to the National Cancer Institute, there are laboratory and animal studies that link certain antioxidants to a reduced incidence of free radical damage due to cancer. Diabetes Management A healthy diet can help a person with diabetes in:
- Managing blood glucose levels
- Keeping blood pressure and cholesterol within target ranges
- Preventing or delaying complications of diabetes
- Maintaining a moderate weight It is vital for people with diabetes to limit their intake of foods with added sugar and salt. They should also consider avoiding fried foods high in saturated and trans fats.
- Weight Loss Maintaining a healthy weight can help reduce the risk of chronic health issues. Being overweight or obese increases the risk factor for several conditions, including:
- Heart Disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Poor bone density
- Some cancers
- Better mood
Many healthy foods, including vegetables, fruits, and beans, are lower in calories than most processed foods. Maintaining a healthy diet free from processed foods can help a person stay within their daily calorie limit more easily. Dietary fiber is particularly important for managing weight. Plant-based foods contain plenty of dietary fiber, which helps regulate hunger by making people feel fuller longer. A 2018 study found that a diet rich in fiber and lean proteins resulted in weight loss without the need for monitoring calorie intake.
Some evidence suggests a close relationship between diet and mood. In 2016, researchers found that diets with a high glycemic load may trigger increased symptoms of depression and fatigue. A diet with a high glycemic load includes many refined carbohydrates, such as those found in soft drinks, cakes, white bread, and biscuits. Vegetables, whole fruit, and whole grains have a lower glycemic load. There are many additional benefits to eating and maintaining a healthy diet like more energy improved memory and more. So now that we understand again the benefits of eating healthy, we know that during the holiday season our goal should be to partake and enjoy the season but to do so while eating as healthy as we can.
Tips to help both you and me manage the holidays
- Do not arrive hungrily! Skipping meals before a holiday party in an effort to save calories for the big party will only make you overeat. Eat a light meal or snack before arriving at the party. A snack or meal that is high in fiber and contains lean protein is ideal because it can help control your appetite and help you avoid overeating.
- Remember Portion Control. You are more likely to eat food that ends up on your plate. Choosing a smaller plate will prevent you from filling your plate with more items than you really need,
- Be more social. The main reason for you being there is to connect with family and friends. Spend time and enjoy the company of others there. The more you talk and engage, the less time you will spend eating.
- Remember the 50/25/25 Rule. Try to fill half your plate with vegetables, a quarter with lean protein, and a quarter with starch.
- Fill up on vegetables and fruits. A fruit, while you’re engaging family and friends, is a great way to cut your appetite for bigger plates later. Not only do these foods have plenty of vitamins and minerals, but they also contain fiber, which helps keep you full longer and may leave less room for other high-calorie foods. And they’re a great way to be sociable and still snack J
- Watch liquid calories. It’s not a holiday event without traditional drinks and cocktails. Alcohol increases your appetite and diminishes your ability to control what you eat. Also, be aware that holiday drinks often contain a large number of calories. One cup of eggnog can set you back around 360 calories, while hot chocolate can contain around 200 calories. Alcoholic mixed drinks and punches can easily contain over 200 calories as well. Try a glass of sparkling water with a splash of your favorite juice or wine.
- Be selective with food choices. If you are at a buffet, Look Before You Eat!. Choose small servings of the foods you want, but try not to return for seconds. A good rule of thumb is It takes about 20 minutes for your stomach to send the signal to the brain you are full, so wait about 20 minutes before you return for seconds
- Be active. Turn on some music and dance! Dancing is a great way to work off some holiday calories. If you are at a family gathering, don’t be afraid to hit the dance floor. If you’re not a great dancer, your family will understand and join in with you, or suggest a walk before the feast or even between dinner and dessert. It doesn’t have to mean taking our sneakers or walking shoes and going for a marathon walk however, making a plan to fit in some activity is always beneficial. Also, check some other great tips from our Thanksgiving article that will help enormously.
We are now in the middle of the Christmas season, another time for family and friends. Another time for sharing and spending time with family, exchanging gifts, and showing how much our loved ones mean to us while we share more great food.
I hope Christmas goes better than Thanksgiving, but with the CDC advising not to spend time in family gatherings, it may not.
I will, again, focus on eating healthy and try making “go on a diet” one of my New Year’s resolutions. I will deal with the depression of the season, marred by Covid, like many others. As I sit by myself to have dinner again, I will think of all the others who are in a similar situation. I will, however, remind myself to be stronger than my excuses and focus on eating healthy and trying to do better than I did during Thanksgiving. I can’t wait to say goodbye to 2020.