Five Tips for Healthful Holiday Eating

By Paula Detwiller

 

Ever notice how the days between Thanksgiving and Christmas are packed with activities that seem to conspire against healthy eating?  Between the Christmas goodies, the holiday parties, and rushing around to get things done, we tend to put nutrition on the back burner.

Maybe that’s why November is Good Nutrition Month—to remind us that our bodies need good fuel to keep running strong.

Fall Cornucopia

Here are 5 tips for staying healthy through the holiday season:

  1. Limit your sugar intake. Yes, it’s easier said than done. But if you remind yourself of all the bad things associated with sugar—diabetes, weight gain, tooth decay, and even immune system suppression, you may find the willpower to resist the cakes, pies, and cookies.
  2. Remember your B’s. End-of-year holidays have a way of stressing us out, from the overcrowded shopping mall to the overbearing relatives. Bolster your nervous system and keep stress at bay by eating foods high in B vitamins, including legumes, oatmeal, eggs, flax seeds, brown rice, nuts, asparagus, leafy greens, cauliflower, potatoes, broccoli, and oranges. (Hint: you’ll find many of these at the Delray GreenMarket!)
  3. Be kind to your gut.  Eating a high-fiber diet of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, beans and nuts keeps you regular. But did you know that it also feeds your “gut flora,” the beneficial microorganisms that live in our digestive tracts? Thriving gut flora is associated with disease prevention in more and more nutritional studies. So as you plan your holiday meals, be sure to include plenty of dietary fiber.
  4. Avoid colds and flu. Germs travel far and wide during the holidays, and get spread around at parties and get-togethers. Protect yourself by washing your hands frequently and eating foods rich in Vitamin C.  Excellent sources include bell peppers, strawberries, broccoli, pineapple, and papaya (which provides a whopping 313 percent of the daily recommended value of Vitamin C).
  5. Go easy on the alcohol. A little holiday cheer can lighten your mood, but too many holiday cocktails can leave you disoriented, dehydrated and depleted of essential vitamins and minerals. If you drink, remember to eat food at the same time—complex carbohydrates and protein sources are best—and for the health and safety of everyone, never drink and drive.
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