5 ways to eat healthily this holiday season

Jake Meola with some freshly baked red cupcakes
Jake Meola just could not wait to eat for the Holidays.

Out Health

Holidays are a great time to eat. And eat. And eat. Let’s not even mention drinking. Just eating. So much good food is associated with holidays. It can be one of the most pleasurable things to do when we get together with family and friends. It’s often difficult to avoid overdoing it.

Jake Meola with some freshly baked red cupcakes
Jake Meola with some freshly baked red cupcakes

Holiday foods tend to be heavy on the sugar and fat content. There’s party after party to attend, family dinners to travel to, office parties to endure, neighbors to visit, and gifts to exchange. An easy gift to give is a plate of cookies, a tray of brownies, a bottle of horchata, or countless other once-a-year treats. It’s possible to get through this season without running wild. Consider these tactics.

Say No
It sounds so easy. For some people with a great amount of self-control, it is. For many of us, it’s not so simple. But with a bit of practice, it can be a piece of cake, so to speak. Picture this scenario: you’re at work, minding your own business at your desk. A colleague bounds into the room with a box of Santa cupcakes. If they are store-bought, it’s very easy to say no. Who needs another CVS cupcake? Without appearing to be too much of a snob, look at the ingredients and politely say, “Oh, I’m sorry; my doctor wants me to avoid eating butylated hydroxyanisole. But they do look good!” Seriously, though, if that doesn’t go over so well, you might need to honor the effort, especially if the nectarous offering was homemade. Take one. Break off a bite. Maybe even eat it in front of the culinary Kris Kringle. Take the rest to someone else. A hungry coworker. Regift. Or just say, “No thanks,” at the start. It’s quick and clean.

Do the cooking
Instead of going to family or friends for a dinner, offer to be the cook. Host the dinner yourself. The cook rarely gets much time to eat. They are always busy in the kitchen, cooking, serving, cleaning up. And you can be in total control of the menu and all the ingredients, unless, of course, if someone brings cupcakes. Then see above paragraph.

Bring your own food
If you do have to go to other people’s houses for dinner, bring something healthy that you love to eat. Every host appreciates a thoughtful guest. Just don’t bring CVS cupcakes. You could say that you’re on a special diet and although you can sample pretty much everything on the table, the bulk of what you need to eat is the dish you brought. Bring enough to share, though. If you are going to a party where there will be lots of unhealthy snacks, you could eat something good but a little filling before you go, so that you will be less tempted to eat everything in sight as soon as you get there.

In addition to any of the above-mentioned instances where lying can keep you from overeating, if you have the ability and nerve to openly lie, it may nip the dessert orgy in the bud. For instance, saying, “I’m fasting for bloodwork,” is quick and painless. Of course, with that lie you would be expected not to eat anything. Saying that you’re vegan gets you out of eating almost everything on a holiday table and bolsters the above argument for bringing your own food. Claiming to have severe allergies could work in your favor, but then everyone might be watching you to make sure you don’t eat any of the offending food, now and forever after. But the most effective way of avoiding the usual holiday binge is the next category:

Tell the Truth
Honesty can be our Yuletide friend. Admitting first to yourself that you need to watch what you eat, and then being able to articulate to family, friends, and coworkers that at this holiday time, you’re trying to be careful about the intake of calories, fat, cholesterol, and sweets, and that you might need a little bit of their kindness, understanding, and help, could be just what we all need this year.