Healthy Holiday Living: Tips for How to Eat Right and Be Active from A - Z, Part II Featured

Authors: Registered Dietitians

Tips for how to eat right and exercise during the holidays.

( It's only one week until Christmas and I am feeling the crunch of the season.  I've had 2 Christmas parties, 1 wedding, 1 school concert and 2 holiday open houses.  In Part I, I described tips, from A - M, on how to eat well and be active during the busy holiday season.  I even heard back from some of you about how you stood away from the buffet table and how you were more aware of your beverage choices!  

And so we continue this article with more tips, from N - Z, to help get you through the holiday season while maintaining your health goals.  

N - Nuts

Do you like to nosh on nuts?  Nuts have fiber, antioxidants, vitamin E, selenium, protein and heart-healthy fats.  They offer delicious bursts of crunch to our days.  Remember to enjoy in moderation as nuts are calorie-dense choices.  Limit to 1 ounce of unsalted nuts per day.  You can also make your own spiced nuts [a great gift idea]:

  • Select 2 pounds of nuts, toss with 2 egg whites + 2 tsp cold water. 
  • Toss nuts with ½ cup brown sugar and 4 tsp salt (and a pinch of cayenne pepper if you want a surprise burst of heat). 
  • Place nuts on a cookie sheet covered with nonstick cooking spray or parchment paper.  Bake for 1 hour at ~225 degrees F, stirring every 15 minutes. 
  • Package in a wide-mouthed jar and finish with a bow.

Healthy Holiday Living: Tips for How to Eat Right and Be Active from A - Z, Part II

O – Oranges

The easy-peel oranges this time of the year are the ultimate in fast food!  Oranges have about 70 mg vitamin C in them. Adults need about 200 mg/day to help fight colds.  Other sources of vitamin C include red bell peppers, kiwi, broccoli, strawberries, bananas, carrots and potatoes.  How do you like to get in your vitamin C?

P – Portion size

The holidays are a time to enjoy good food and drink.  Research has shown that serving larger portion sizes results in eating more food than when smaller portions are served.  So enjoy yourself – take time to savour the flavor of the foods you eat.  But be aware of how much food you are adding to your plate.  Check out this visual reference guide to help you with healthy portion selection. 

Q – Quick meals

Quick meal ideas are a must this holiday season.  Dinner comes every day – have a plan.  Grocery shop with convenience in mind.  Fill your house with staples to make meals a snap.  Build your own veggie platter with hummus for a quick snack.  Pick up a deli chicken, add a side salad, a crusty whole grain bun and a glass of milk.  Build a DIY pizza – buy naan bread, cover with tomato sauce, load with vegetables and cubed ham or black beans, top with shredded cheese.  For more ideas, click here.

Healthy Holiday Living: Tips for How to Eat Right and Be Active from A - Z, Part II

R – “R” you on the “see-food” diet? 

Question whether you are eating because you are hungry or because you are “seeing” the food.  The occasional indulgence is unlikely to distract you from reaching your lifestyle goals – but an entire holiday season of routinely indulging may.  Ask what you are hungry for - food?  Feeling loved?  Excitement?  A distraction from boredom?  Awareness is the first step into becoming a more mindful eater. 

S – Slow cooker

Dust off your slow cooker/crock pot – it is a real life saver!   Prepare foods for your slow cooker recipe: chop your vegetables, trim fat from meat, layer the foods as directed by the recipe instructions.  Add liquid into the slow cooker, add the lid [and no peaking!  This lowers the temperature and lengthens the cooking period], turn on and let your foods cook.  At the near end of the cooking time, add extra ingredients, if using, like pasta, corn starch, fast-cooking vegetables like cauliflower, corn and broccoli, seafood. Inhale through your nose - enjoy the fragrant and warm smell that will overtake your home. 

Healthy Holiday Living: Tips for How to Eat Right and Be Active from A - Z, Part II

T –Thought Patterns

Identify your thought pattern - how you think can affect your behavior; how you behave can affect how you feel.  For example, are you a black-and-white, all-or-nothing thinker?  For example, “I just ate that cookie, I may as well eat the whole plate.”  Becoming aware of your thoughts can help prevent problematic eating.  Once you are more aware of your thoughts, you can work on changing your thoughts to be more helpful and supportive to you. 

U – Understand the impact of variety. 

Research shows that the more variety of something you have, the more of it you will eat.  Haven’t we all seen this at the buffet?   Limit the variety of foods you want to eat less of and increase the variety of foods you want to eat more of. 

V – Vitamins! 

Those essential little micro-nutrients that are found in foods and not made by the body in amounts to meet our body's needs.  When we do not get enough vitamins for our body’s needs, we experience a deficiency and other health consequences.  There are certain groups that need a vitamin or mineral supplement: women of childbearing age, men and women over the age of 50, people who don’t drink milk, people who smoke, vegetarians.  People whom are physically active may also need a supplement.  For more information, click here.

W – Winter vegetables

Enjoy a variety of these nutritional powerhouses: beets, squash, parsnips, carrots, asparagus, onions, brussel sprouts.  My favourite way to eat vegetables is to roast them, which creates intensely & naturally sweet vegetables.  To roast vegetables:

  • Wash and dry all vegetable,
  • cut into uniform bite-sized pieces,
  • place in a bowl,
  • coat vegetables with a few tablespoons of olive oil [enough to coat not drown them], add salt and pepper, toss.  You can also add in other spices or vinegars here too!  
  • Place vegetables in a single layer on a greased baking sheet or a shallow roasting pan.  Avoid over-crowding.  Roast vegetables at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so.  Finish vegetables with crumbled cheese, toasted nuts or seeds.  Enjoy as a side dish, in a salad, in a sandwich or on pizza.

Healthy Holiday Living: Tips for How to Eat Right and Be Active from A - Z, Part II

X – Xbox

...and other gaming systems – they are social and are a lot of fun for the family!  Many gaming systems now have "active" games - boxing, tennis...  Active gaming, exer-gaming, gamercize - is an evolving area of research.  New research journals are dedicated to studying how active gaming affects our health.  While active gaming can complement your active lifestyle, it does not substitute for real, in-person activity.   

Y – Yogurt

Yogurt has protein and bone-building calcium and may have gut-health promoting probiotics.  Yogurt is versatile.  Plain yogurt makes for a wonderful substitute for sour cream used in mashed potatoes or dips. Eat yogurt as a quick snack.  Include in your smoothies. Add on top of cereal.  Just make sure to buy yogurt as part of your weekly grocery shop.  HealthCastle just did a major review of 85 yogurts.  For more information, click here.

Z – Zzzzz

Rest up!  Getting adequate sleep and rest is essential for stress management.  Research is finding that people who do not sleep enough tend to have higher weights and other health problems. Just like we have bedtime routines for children, have a calming bedtime routine to prepare your body for sleep.  Grab your PJ’s, blanket, pillow and a book or whatever soothes you. Be aware of caffeine intake within 8 hours of expected sleep.   Plan to get enough sleep.  You deserve it!

Healthy Holiday Living: Tips for How to Eat Right and Be Active from A - Z, Part II

Cheers to you and your family over this holiday season.  Rest easy.

I would love to hear your feedback - what tips were helpful?  What successes did you have in maintaining your lifestyle?  What struggles did you have?  You can comment at the bottom of this page, on my Facebook page or email.  


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