By: Stephanie Sforza, District 6 Health and Wellness Chair
Hey all you snowmen and women!
Now that the semester has ended and you have (a little) more free time to focus on yourself, let’s talk about something really important – nutrition! This is a place where a lot of people struggle, especially with hectic schedules like ours, and the holidays definitely don’t make it any easier. If you’re not home yet, I’m sure a lot of you will soon be traveling to see friends and family for the holidays, which of course is accompanied by delicious and decadent food and drinks. And while enjoying all those yummy treats this time of year is a must, going back to school for spring semester carrying an extra couple of pounds is not! So here are some nutrition tips and tricks to help you navigate the holiday food scene and return to school ready to tackle the new year!
- Water: I know a lot of people get caught up on this one, but it’s one of the most important nutrition tips, especially during the holidays when there are treats EVERYWHERE. Studies show your body’s ability to utilize fat as fuel is restricted when you are in a dehydration state, and that your body can confuse the hunger signal and the “I need water” alert. So something to try is always drinking water FIRST. First thing in the morning… if you have a craving… if you’re wanting to stress eat or eat out of boredom… Drink water first to make sure you don’t confuse your body’s signals. Tip: On average, you should aim to drink half of your body weight in ounces of water each day (ex. you weigh 150 lbs, you should hit 75 oz of water daily).
- Rank your food: Yep, you read that right. This is one of the most helpful nutrition tips I’ve learned over the years because it helps you break free of the cycle of deprivation and then overindulgence that we are all victims of sometimes. So at events, say a family Christmas party, survey the food table first before loading up your plate. Then pick two things that are a TEN for you (your favorite things out of everything available), and enjoy them guilt free! Then fill up the rest of your plate with fresh fruit, veggies, lean protein, salad, and other healthy options. So instead of eating ALL OF THE DESSERTS, just pick your favorite two, then fill up on some real fuel!
- Food Swaps: Okay, listen carefully… I am NOT suggesting that instead of eating your grandma’s homemade apple pie you just eat an apple. No way! That doesn’t taste the same! But, there are some great food swaps that you can use to save yourself from extra calories and fats, and you’ll never know the difference! So here are a few of my favorites that you can try out during the holidays, and then keep using all year round.
- Replace sour cream with plain greek yogurt
- Switch mashed potatoes for cauliflower mash (don’t knock it ‘til you try it!)
- Use your favorite hummus in place of a cream cheese dip
- Try dark hot chocolate instead of eggnog (1 tbs raw cacao powder, 1 tsp maple sugar or stevia, 1 c unsweetened almond milk)
- Mix cocktails with sparkling water instead of sugary sodas or juices
To add a little fun, snap a picture of a holiday dinner with some healthy options, or a healthy holiday spread at your next gathering! Post to your Instagram account, and be sure to tag @asdadistrict6 and use #healthyholidayeats for a chance to win a prize!
I hope these simple tips and tricks can help save you from an overindulgence bellyache this holiday season, while still making sure you celebrate this time of year with the people (and food!) most important to you! Wishing you and yours happy holidays!