PANHANDLE PERSPECTIVES: Twelve ways of healthier holiday eating

 By Jamie Goffena, Nebraska Extension Educator – Food, Nutrition and Health

As adults, having good health is often more important than a pretty wrapped package to open during the holidays. Follow these twelve ways for healthier eating during the holiday season.

     1. Eat before shopping and avoid the grab-n-go food court at the mall or downtown.

      2. Keep office goodies out of view and away from your work station. Cover with a paper napkin, if needed. Research shows folks eat 26% less if snacks are out-of-sight. Also, have some healthy snacks stashed in your desk, such as an apple or whole grain crackers, to curb temptations.

      3. Offer to be the party planner. Rather than focusing on holiday feasts, plan holiday activities like bowling, board games, ice skating or winter sledding.

      4. When invited to a gathering, offer to bring something and make it a healthy dish. If you don’t like cooking, cut up a fresh pineapple or buy it pre-cut. Most folks appreciate its fresh taste as a contrast to heavier holiday foods.

      5. Before a party eat a satisfying snack at home to curb your appetite, something like relishes with hummus or a slice of cheese.

      6. View the whole party buffet before making your choices. Fill half of your plate with vegetables and fruit. Use a smaller plate, smaller serving spoon and a tall skinny glass so you dish up smaller portions. Then move as far away from the buffet as you can to visit with a fellow healthy eater.

      7. Go ahead and have a taste of that seasonal treat. Just balance it by eliminating your bedtime snack or taking a few more trips up and down the stairs.

      8. When dishing up seconds at a holiday meal, take just one spoonful of one favorite. Choose the dish you can’t get any other time of year, like Aunt Judy’s pumpkin pie. Then savor each bite between bits of conversation.

      9. Keep track of your weight daily. If your weight goes up one day, or your clothes get a bit tight, up your physical activity that day.

      10. Limit or avoid alcohol. If you do enjoy an alcoholic drink, choose one without the high-calorie mixer and have it with some food.

      11. Keep after exercise. If you miss your morning workout, go for a 15 minute brisk walk on a break and after that big meal. You can visit with your favorite cousin while you walk.

      12. Remember to get enough sleep; 7-8 hours is optimum for good health. During sleep the body produces hormones to control appetite, metabolism and glucose processing. Sleep deprived people tend to eat more, and eat high-fat and high-sugar foods.

      By following these tips you can wrap up a healthy holiday season without gaining weight.