This is a guest blog post by Lori Kaley, MS, RD, LD, MSB.
Today is the first day of winter, and it seems the world has not yet ended! We are well into the holidays and food and drink is plentiful. And we’re all trying to navigate the myriad of events where it is so easy to overindulge. Of course we look forward to our favorite treats, those foods and beverages that only show up at this time of year. How can we still enjoy holiday traditions and come out of the season feeling good about the choices we made? Here are ten easy tips to help manage the abundance of foods constantly within reach, luring us at every turn.
- Take care of yourself – Stick to your health routine as much as possible. This includes getting enough sleep, being physically active, eating nutritious meals and snacks including breakfast every day, drinking water, and finding balance with relaxing activities such as hobbies, reading or talking with friends.
- Miniature is in! – Eat and drink small portions of richer, higher calorie items. Buy smaller items such as mini-muffins and small cookies. Use small glasses and plates. It is popular to serve “bites” and “sips” of desserts in shot glasses. The trick is to have only one or two!
- Keep dairy foods low-fat and fat-free – It is easy to switch to lower fat dairy products such as 1% and skim milk, low-fat and fat-free yogurt and low-fat cheese since they taste great and work well in any recipe.
- Spice it up! – Use small amounts of foods and spices with strong flavors. I love grating Romano or provolone cheese on top of hors d’oeuvres and soups. Strong flavors in small portions are satisfying.
- Fruits and veggies rule – Always turn to fruits and vegetables since they are loaded with nutrition and are among the lowest calorie foods. Add them to every meal, munch for snacks, and mix into recipes. Bananas, clementines, and apples come in their own wrapping and are great for grab & go.
- Water and air are calorie-free and always will be – Enjoy foods with high water content such as soups, salads, melons and berries. Air popped snacks such as popcorn and crackers can have fewer calories for the same portion size as other snacks. These foods fill you up.
- Get wet! – If you drink alcohol, use sparkling water to water down drinks or have a glass of cool water in between every alcoholic drink. A recent study found that U.S. adults get an average of almost 100 calories each day from alcoholic beverages. Just last week I looked at the nutrition information on my lite beer, it has almost 100 calories! If I have one every night, I could easily gain about a pound a month, that’s close to 10 pounds in a year! Remember that alcohol has 7 calories per gram – that’s more than carbohydrates (starches and sugars) and protein and a little less than fat.
- Shake that! – Make time to move your body. Try to do it every day. You can keep it short and simple like taking a brisk walk with a friend, dancing with your partner in the kitchen, or playing outside with the kids. You’ll feel great and have more energy.
- Enjoy family and friends – Being with others this time of year can mean being around a lot of food and drink. Take the time to enjoy the company you are in as much as the food. If you are the one responsible for preparing and serving food, plan to ask for help and have fun!
- Be thankful – Appreciate all that you have and who you are now. Being healthy is the greatest gift you can give to yourself and to those you love.
Lori Kaley, MS, RD, LD, MSB is Managing Director with the LA Sutherland Group providing food and nutrition science, communication and policy strategic counsel to private and public organizations.