Thanksgiving is almost here, which signals the beginning of the holiday season. This time of year there are many festivities to look forward to: school parties, holiday parties, neighborhood parties and so on. It’s easy to get caught up in all of the excitement or become stressed as the family jumps from one activity to the other leaving normal routines, including nutrition, behind. How do you keep your family on a healthy track while still enjoying the season?
Here are my top five tips for keeping both you and your family on a healthy track during this time of year:
1. Continue to plan weekly meals. Just because things are hectic this time of year doesn’t mean you should give up on menu planning. If you are new to menu planning, now is a good time to start and involve the whole family. Read my post on how to get started here. If you have a babysitter coming for a night, plan a meal that the babysitter can easily prepare with the help of your children. You may also consider using your slow cooker to have a delicious no-fuss meal already on the table rather than ordering pizza. Here are some great ideas for babysitter-friendly meals.
2. Eat before parties. Heading out to a holiday cocktail party? Having a small meal or healthy snack beforehand is a good way to prevent yourself from overdoing it at the buffet table. Think lean protein, fruit, vegetables and whole grains. Avoid standing at the buffet table and grazing. Instead, prepare a small plate and sit down to enjoy your food.
3. Plan family exercise. It is important to continue to make time for daily physical activity. Find fun ways for the family to be active together. There are many fun runs and walks this time of year that are family friendly. Active.com and your local sports store are great resources for finding local races. Too cold to go outside? Turn on the holiday music and host your own family dance party.
4. Veg out! Load up on the vegetables and try something new. If you are heading to a potluck, bring a tasty vegetable dish. Holiday meals are often laden with meats, breads and starches. The non-starchy vegetables get overlooked. Involve your children in preparing a special dish to share. Think about color – vibrant greens or oranges can really help dress up a table. Need inspiring ideas? Check out Eating Well, Cooking Light, Meal Makeover Moms or Weelicious.
5. Mindfulness. Do you really need to attend every party? Cutting back on social activities will allow you to put greater focus on your family and what the holidays mean to you. Be present in your activities with both your family and friends. It is easy to get so caught up in thinking about all that we have to do and forget to take time to enjoy ourselves and those around us. The same applies when it comes to eating. Take time to enjoy your food and pay attention to your body’s natural signals of hunger and fullness. This approach is called intuitive eating and can help people conquer weight control issues.