Navigating the holiday menu

There’s a way to enjoy the holidays and the delicious food that comes with it and still be watchful of what you eat without dampening your enjoyment of the festive season. Courtesy of Kaiser Permanente.

For most, celebrating the holidays and eating healthy are an unlikely pairing. 

Every holiday season welcomes parties filled with delicious festive foods and desserts. At these gatherings, people experience the temptation to indulge in all the foods while simultaneously putting in the extra effort to avoid holiday weight gain. 

“When we talk about mindful eating, it’s not about deprivation or guilt, it’s about truly experiencing your food, which can help you feel more satisfied after eating less,” Dr. Janet E. Solis, a family practice physician with Kaiser Permanente Southern California, said in a news release. 

Finding a balance between favorite holiday dishes and healthy choices is the key to navigating the holiday menu. It takes a bit of compromise and sacrifice, but it will leave you satisfied that you did not completely give in to unhealthier options. 

For example, Maria McIntosh, manager of nutritional services at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital, explains that filling a dinner plate at holiday dinner isn’t a bad thing, it just matters what is on the plate. 

“When you fill your plate, try to fill up half the plate with vegetables or salad,” said McIntosh. “You will feel more full and consume healthier calories.” 

This visual guide to a holiday dinner plate that McIntosh offers is an easy way to eat healthier without having to count each calorie. 

Additionally, the holiday season does not need to be an “all or nothing” event when it comes to eating. 

“If there is a whole table for desserts, you don’t need to try every single one,” said McIntosh. “Pick your favorites and stick with those.” 

Trying new desserts may not be worth the extra calories or sugar intake. Sticking to favorite desserts and dishes, in reasonable portions, will be both filling and better for an individual’s health.  

“As the holiday season comes to a close, why not continue on the path and consider a mindful approach to eating as you enter the new year?” Solis said.           

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