Food means family. Food means sharing stories and laughs with loved ones. Food means cheering on the Longhorns the day after Thanksgiving. With all of the festivities this holiday season, it’s easy to get swept up in the merriment and overindulge in unhealthy foods.
Marissa Duswalt Epstein, director of The University of Texas at Austin Nutrition Institute and former associate director of Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative, says that holiday social gatherings and healthy eating can go hand in hand. “Healthy eating can happen all year long, even during the holidays. Nutritious meals can be delicious, and when we enjoy them with others, it makes them that much better.” We asked her to share some tips on how to enjoy a delicious but healthy holiday.
How can you make the healthiest choices for yourself and your loved ones this holiday season?
1. Enjoy talking with your loved ones.
A great way to ensure you enjoy eating healthy food is to eat with friends and family and take part in the dinner table conversation. Conversation during meals can force you to eat more slowly, which prevents you from overeating, as you focus more on your companions than on the meal itself.
2. Focus on the positives of healthy eating.
Research has shown that having a positive attitude toward healthy eating is a characteristic of healthy eaters. Stay inspired by making healthy versions of your favorite holiday foods and getting your friends and family involved in the positive, healthy holiday vibe.
3. Drink water and stay hydrated.
Sometimes, it’s easy to mistake hunger for thirst, so be sure to have a glass of water on hand throughout the holiday parties and celebrations.
4. Plan to stay active.
Invite your family members to go on a walk after a big holiday meal, or spend quality time with your friends by attending a fun exercise class. Exercise helps our bodies maintain a healthy weight and relieve stress, and it can even increase cravings for healthy foods.
5. Show your Texas pride by eating burnt-orange foods.
As you plan your holiday menu, consider adding nutritious and delicious fruits and vegetables. Roast sweet potatoes, yams and pumpkins for a delicious side dish. Slice orange bell peppers or cantaloupe as a snack. If you’re on the go, grab an orange, a handful of dried apricots or carrots. Orange foods tend to be good sources of vitamin A, which supports good eyesight and healthy skin, along with fiber, water and other vitamins and minerals.
Whatever your plans may be this holiday season, take the stress out of eating and enjoy the quality time. Happy Holidays!