The holiday season can be a difficult time to continue healthy eating, especially as the weather turns colder. Thoughts of “comfort food” usually include things like macaroni and cheese, pot roast, chili, etc. But eating healthy doesn’t have to only mean eating salads – there are other things you can do to keep your food choices healthy, boost your immune system, and not have to “undo” so much “damage” to your waistline with New Year’s resolutions.
Choose fruits and vegetables that are in season
Not only will this likely help your food budget, but you’ll be able to find them fresh. The list of in-season produce is long for the winter months of December, January, and February, but more familiar ones include: brussels sprouts, buttercup squash, dates, kale, most citrus fruit, kiwifruit, pear, pomegranate, sweet potatoes, and turnips. Check out this page for some new ideas on ways to prepare fruits and veggies.
Foods that are full of nutrients, antioxidants, and other immune-boosting properties will help your body stay warm and provide a boost against seasonal colds and flu. Here are a few to try:
- Oatmeal: a great source of fiber and plant-based protein to keep you feeling full longer. Choose healthy add-ins such as seeds or dried fruits.
- Hot chocolate: a great way to warm up for kids or adults, especially healthy if you use real dark chocolate which contains antioxidants.
- Bean or lentil soups: great sources of plant-based protein and fiber, with almost zero saturated fat. Black beans are especially high in flavonoid antioxidants.
- Brussels sprouts: high in fiber and Vitamin C, which has been shown to reduce the length of cold symptoms. If you’re leery of the taste, try just roasting with a bit of olive oil or add to a chopped salad.
- Avocado: not just for guacamole! Try oven roasting or chopping warm to put on top of other vegetables. About half the fat comes from monosaturated fats – the good kind that helps lower cholesterol.
- Apples: the perfect snack or dessert, raw or baked. They’re loaded with fiber, both soluble and insoluble.
- Salmon: full of amino acids and omega-3 fatty acids which makes it a good heart-healthy choice of protein. Emerging evidence shows that eating fish with lower risk for depression.
- Sweet potatoes and winter squash: great sources of Vitamin A, fiber, potassium, and carotenoids. Try roasting squash or cooking in the microwave and adding cinnamon and a bit of maple syrup.
- Ginger tea: Ginger has been shown to have thermogenic properties that can help keep you warm. These properties may also increase blood flow and boost metabolism.
Strategize for holiday parties
We all know those parties can be a virtual landmine. One registered dietician has this recommendation: “[S]urvey all the options available at a family event or holiday party and pick whatever they can’t live without, having just a bite. Not a slice of pie, but a bite of pie. I advise them to fill up on lower calorie fruits, vegetables, low-fat dips, reduced-fat chips, and snacks first. Then, when they are approaching that comfortably full feeling, enjoy that bite of pie and really savor it.” Remember what has been often said before, “All things in moderation.” And, avoid the tendency to skip a meal – especially breakfast – so that you can eat more later. If you’re doing the cooking or baking, try to incorporate healthier recipes or make modifications in your favorites. Check out our Facebook page for some ideas to get you started, like this one for Slow-Cooker Green Bean Casserole with Crispy Onions.
This holiday season remember to celebrate what’s truly important and meaningful to you and your family. Give thanks for all the choices we are blessed with and to be able to choose the foods we want to eat – when we want them. Integrity Urgent Care will be on a special schedule during the holidays, so be sure to check our website. From our family to yours, the very happiest of holidays and a Healthy and Happy New Year in 2019!
Collins K. The best winter foods for kids. Eatright.org [online]. 13 Dec 2018 [accessed 16 Dec 2018]. https://www.eatright.org/food/planning-and-prep/cooking-tips-and-trends/best-winter-foods-for-kids
Fruits & veggies – more matters®. What fruits & vegetables are in season during winter? [online]. [accessed 15 Dec 2018]. https://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/whats-in-season-winter
Getz L. Winter nutrition – healthy eating offers good protection during the chilly season. Today’s Dietician [online]. 2009 Jan;11(1):48. [accessed 15 Dec 2018]. https://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/011209p48.shtml#
Swalin R. 12 Superfoods that warm you up. Health.com [online]. [accessed 15 Dec 2018].