Be Mindful of Nutrition While Enjoying the Holidays

Dr. Wendy Jin, pediatrician for UnityPoint Health-Meriter Hospital, offers suggestions on eating well during this indulgent season.

Our family has never been one to participate in elaborate holiday traditions, but we sure love to gather together and share a day of delicious snacks and meals. With the holiday season quickly approaching, it’s a great time to start thinking about how to balance the fun with staying healthy! It takes a little more effort, but it is possible to make smart, healthy decisions while enjoying yourself. How can you indulge without overdoing it? I’m here to share my favorite tips and tricks.

Cook at home.

Preparing your dishes at home rather than purchasing them gives you the chance to control what ingredients you’re eating. It also provides an opportunity to cook alongside your kids to create cherished holiday memories!

Substitute ingredients.

Try whole wheat grains instead of white, bananas in baked recipes instead of butter, canned black beans instead of flour, Stevia instead of sugar, mashed cauliflower instead of potatoes and Greek yogurt instead of sour cream.

Offer healthy options.

Pair some fruits or vegetables with homemade dip and offer those throughout the day. If you’re sitting down for a multi- course meal, kick it off with some greens!

Balance your plate.

Pause when serving and mindfully shoot for a plate that is half vegetables and fruits, a quarter protein and a quarter of grains.

Stay active.

Plan some family activities that involve getting up and moving around. Have a dance party, go for a hike or explore a park.

Portion control.

Eat because you’re hungry, not because the food looks delicious or just happens to be there! Before going up for seconds, give yourself 15-30 minutes and then decide if you’re truly still hungry.

It can take a few minutes before your brain receives those fullness signals, so by waiting a short while, you often don’t feel hungry anymore.

Set an example for your kids!

As always, your children will be so much more willing to do what you do rather than what you tell them to do.

Happy holidays everyone!

— Dr. Wendy Jin, MD, MPH, FAAP is a pediatrician at UnityPoint Health-Meriter Hospital.

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