March is National Nutrition Month, when the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reminds everyone to return to the basics of healthy eating. It is also the time of year when the Academy celebrates expertise of registered dietitian nutritionists as the food and nutrition experts.
Worried enjoying a traditional holiday meal and party foods with family and friends will destroy healthful food habits nurtured all year? The good news is any foods, even beloved holiday dishes, can fit into a healthful eating plan with practice and planning.
For starters, trying to lose weight during the holidays may be a self-defeating goal. Instead of trying to shed pounds, strive to maintain your current weight.
Prepare small, lower-calorie meals during the day so you can eat celebration foods without overdoing your calorie intake for the day. Enjoy a small, low-calorie snack such as fruit or whole-grain toast before you head out the door to curb hunger and avoid overeating at the party.
If you're bringing a dish, make it healthfully delicious and low-calorie. Vegetables with a yogurt or cottage cheese dip, fresh fruit or whole-grain pasta salad are sure to be crowd pleasers.
Remember, conversation is calorie-free, and you may eat less if you settle into the festivities instead of heading straight to the buffet. Ask for sparkling water and lime, which doesn’t supply calories, and start mingling.
Wondering how to build a healthful plate at the buffet? Start by making just one trip and choose the foods you really want to eat. Try filling half your plate with lower-calorie party foods like fruits and vegetables. Sometimes, just a taste satisfies a craving or curiosity, so keep portions small.
Balance "party calories" with more physical activity. Even though it may be cold outside, these everyday activities can take only 10 minutes at a time, and will help you get moving during the holidays.
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator.
- Play actively with your kids, grandkids or pets.
- After dinner, take a walk with your family — even if it's just around the block.
- Catch up with housework: wash the windows, vacuum or sweep.
For help staying active and sticking to a healthful eating plan during the holidays and beyond, consult a registered dietitian nutritionist in your area.