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Right now you are in the eye of the holiday season storm. While this busy time of year can make you feel like you’re falling off your daily diet and nutrition plans, it doesn’t have to be that way. Maintaining good health for the holidays is possible by following a few simple rules and tips. Consequently, these rules can be applied throughout the year.
The logical thinking that you will eat less by skipping meals will not help you become healthier or support weight management any better. Even if you’re a calorie counter, skipping meals can backfire because it often leads to overeating during other meals, or constant snacking between meals that can result in a higher daily calorie intake than if you had stuck to regular meals. A recent study done at Ohio State University showed that skipping meals can actually lead to abdominal weight gain and increased resistance to insulin within the liver, which can cause fat to accumulate. In short, sticking to a regular meal plan during the holidays can help you avoid the pitfalls of binge eating and unhealthy weight gain.
The temptation for unhealthy eating is everywhere during the holidays. Between work parties, social gatherings, and family get-togethers—all flush with different types of foods—the propensity to lean towards unhealthy dishes is strong. To counterbalance the potential for unhealthy eating this holiday season, create a rule for yourself to include one healthy food in each major meal. Another rule to follow is to try filling half your plate with veggies. Making half your plate a colorful medley of fruits and vegetables is a safe way to infuse your holiday meals with solid nutrition. In addition, whether you are hosting or going to a potluck gathering, be a good eating advocate by bringing a healthy dish.
Just for good measure, here are some more holiday festivity nutrition tips. Never go to a party or gathering on an empty stomach (see the section above on skipping meals) and don’t base your socializing around food. And lastly, mind your drink calories. Some beverages such as sodas can be filled with a large amount of calories that can add up to almost as much as a whole meal! Try to stay hydrated with water, seltzer water, teas, or low-sugar juices to avoid a calorie splurge from beverages.
Keeping track of your nutrition can be a great way to understand your needs, along with your dieting strengths and weaknesses. That’s why you shouldn’t be afraid to break your nutrition down into exact numbers. This can further help you make healthy decisions during the holiday season. Many daily total calorie intakes are based on 1,600 or 2,000 calories. According to the American Heart Association, your recommended daily values can be spread across several food and nutrient groups. For example, your total recommended grain intake for a 2,000-calorie diet is 6–8 servings per day, while the recommended daily vegetable intake for a 2,000-calorie diet is 4–5 servings per day.
Researching your daily nutrition recommendations, reading the labels when you’re doing your holiday shopping or preparing food, and staying on top of your nutrition choices can be a great guide healthy holiday eating.
Don’t let the holidays wreck your nutrition this year by falling into the same pattern of making regretful New Year’s resolutions because of bad choices. Be proactive, stay active, and make the healthy choices this holiday season for a great end to 2015 and a nutritious start to 2016.