Your Guide to Healthy Holiday Eating

Published on: 23/12/2020

Select healthier options as you indulge in hearty feasts with your loved ones this holiday season.

The year 2020 may be considered a year of so many challenges, but nothing can stop the holiday spirit, especially here in the Philippines. 

As family and friends prepare to celebrate in their own unprecedented ways, safety should be the top priority on everyone’s mind. Physical distancing and other quarantine guidelines should be considered when planning your gatherings and get-togethers. Nonetheless, it is also undeniable that festivities would not be complete without the feast that has become synonymous with the Filipino Christmas traditions.

So whether you have decided to go for a simpler Noche Buena, a smaller-scale gathering, or safely dining out with loved ones, it is still important to keep healthy choices when it comes to your food and beverages throughout this holiday season. After all, you would want you and your family to welcome the New Year in good health and good spirits. 

Here are some of our tips for healthy eating this holiday:

  1. Plan your Schedule

While you may not have control over what is being served (in case you are attending as a guest), make sure you have a plan when you come to these holiday events. One way to go about this is to eat as close to your regular eating time to keep your blood sugar steady. In case the holiday meal is served at a later time than you are used to, eat a snack during your usual mealtime. If you can, try to eat less when the actual meal is served. 

  1. Eat Slowly

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, your brain takes at least 20 minutes before it realizes that you are already full. Harvard Health recommends taking a 10-minute break after you have finished your first helping of food. So why not take this time to join in on conversations as you assess your appetite? You might find out that you are already full and are no longer up for that second serving.

  1. Choose Your Drinks Wisely

Whenever possible, choose healthier options for your drinks. Keep in mind that wine, beer, and mixed drinks can pack up the calories quickly. Sodas and other sugary drinks can likewise give you up to 150 calories per serving. 

If you must drink your alcoholic drink, make sure you take it with food — remember that alcohol can lower your blood sugar. It increases your appetite, so you may not have as much ability to control the amount of food you are eating. If you are taking diabetes medicines, this can also interact with the alcohol. 

As such, it is helpful to have a glass of water in between these drinks.

  1. Go for Pre-party Snacks

Going to a gathering on an empty tank may be the best way you can think of to indulge in all the delicious holiday food at a party. However, this may lead to overeating. Harvard Health recommends snacking on complex carbohydrates beforehand. You can then combine these with protein and unsaturated fat, such as a slice of turkey and cheese on whole-wheat pita bread.

  1. Eat Your Vegetables

Make room for both fruits and vegetables on your plate. They are your healthier options for snacks, side, or main dishes. To take the edge off your appetite, you could go ahead and start with vegetables. Make sure though, that they are not slathered with too much butter or creamy sauce. Otherwise, they would not be as healthy.

  1. Think of Your Heart

When preparing food for your guests, choose recipes that are not high in saturated fats. This means cooking with less butter, lard, cream, and vegetable shortening. When it comes to meat, turkey or fish are the healthier options instead of red meat.

  1. Get Moving

Physical movement is another key factor for your holiday wellness. Even a simple activity like taking a walk can do wonders for your health. Aside from burning calories, exercise can help relieve you from the stress of the holiday season.

  1. Don’t Forget to Rest

Holiday planning and preparations may take a lot of your time, but being busy should not be an excuse to cut back on your body’s much-needed rest. Also, if you are going out more and staying up later, you might be sacrificing your sleeping hours. Bear in mind that fewer hours of sleep can increase your blood sugar. It can also make you crave foods that are high in fat and sugar. Therefore, to prevent mindless eating, make sure that you are sleeping 7-8 hours per night. 

Ultimately, the holiday season is a great time to reconnect with family and friends. Make sure that you also take care of your health as you share hearty meals with your loved ones during this wonderful time of the year.