With Thanksgiving behind us, the holiday season is upon us. The holidays should be the most wonderful time of the year, but wouldn’t it be nice if you could get out of the season a little healthier than usual? Making one small change could make the difference this year. Here are some ideas.
1. Take half.
When you cut your regular serving size in half, you get to have everything you love but without their usual effects on weight, blood sugar, and more. It is a good rule of thumb to take half of what you normally would when it comes to desserts, such as pies and Christmas cookies, and fatty or starchy dishes such as mashed potatoes, casseroles, and stuffing. If you need more food, heap on extra servings of salad, steamed or grilled vegetables, or fresh fruit.
2. Bake a cake for someone.
If you are in a baking mood, why not let your creativity shine and make someone else happy while saving your own waistline? Bake a new or tried-and-true recipe, wrap it up prettily, and write a nice card. Then drop it off at a neighbor or friend’s house, and see how energized and good you feel.
3. Take a walk.
Or several walks, that is. If you don’t already get moving each day, it can be helpful to set a regular time when you can get outside and walk, either alone or with a member of your household. Just be warned: you may decide to turn your walk into a habit when you notice how much better you feel afterwards.
4. Order in.
If cooking, cleaning, working, taking care of others, and anything else you may do is making you tired, ordering in can free up time and relieve stress, not to mention give you delicious food. It can even be healthy, especially if it is an alternative to a packaged meal such as boxed mac and cheese or frozen pizza. There are plenty of healthy options, such as grilled salmon and hummus or mutabal (eggplant dip) from Mediterranean and Greek restaurants, minestrone soup and caprese salad from Italian places, and stir fried chicken or tofu and vegetables with brown rice from Chinese restaurants.
5. Keep it simple.
If holidays are different this year, they offer an opportunity to do things differently…and maybe with less stress. If you are following public health recommendations and sticking to a small celebration, you may be able to get away with less elaborate meal than usual. One possibility is to let each attendee choose one “essential” dish that they look forward to all year. Be sure to serve those items, and just don’t worry about other items that may be on your menu other years.
6. Skip one part.
Akin to picky eating, this strategy involves choosing what you really, really love about each dish, and avoiding the rest. That could mean leaving the pie crust, the icing, the breading on the shrimp, the crust of your dinner roll, or the skin of the turkey on your plate. You can save calories while enjoying what you love.
7. Watch the clock.
If time has seemed odd since this spring due to COVID-19, it may seem even odder during the holidays! Sticking to a schedule can help you sleep better, get more done, and set aside time for exercise.
8. Value others.
Do you value other people in your life? Do you trust them enough to…ask them for help? It can be hard to let go if you are a control freak, but does it really matter if they don’t do it your way or don’t do it as well? Asking someone else to put up holiday decorations or bring dessert lets them feel valuable and proud, and isn’t that more important than having it done your way?
9. Be positive.
It is easy to get so wrapped up in the daily grind, and the presence of COVID-19 makes it worse. However, a deliberate effort to remember the good things can make you truly appreciate them.