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The secret of a healthy vacation? Plan ahead | Health beat

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If you have a say in meal plans for the holidays, give dishes that contain fruits and vegetables plenty of space. (For Spectrum Health Beat)

When autumn begins, it signals the approach of the seasonal festivals. Halloween and Thanksgiving are just around the corner – and the winter holidays are not far away.

With all the fun, there’s plenty of good food. And that means sweet, tasty and hearty.

If you are concerned that your diet may go awry in the face of temptation, consider these ideas to help keep you on track.

Eat healthy foods first

Stocking yourself with healthy foods at mealtime is a great way to prepare to enjoy the other delicious foods last. As you fill yourself with the foods that are best for your health, you are leaving less room – but still room – for your favorite vacation treats.

Distance yourself

During meals, sit where the less healthy foods are out of sight or out of reach. When you find yourself around these junk foods, they are hard to resist.

Make half of your plate vegetables

You may have had this advice within the framework of the MyPlate initiative. When vegetables take up 50% of the space on your plate, you are consuming more vitamins and minerals – as opposed to foods high in sugar and saturated fat.

Exercise before the party

A 30-minute workout prior to your event can help set the mood for your diet. Hopefully after you’ve exercised, you will be less inclined to spoil your hard work by eating high-calorie foods.

Plan ahead

If possible, participate in the planning of your holiday event. If the host is someone you know, consider helping them plan meals. This way you have some control over the health of the food that will be served at the event.

Focus on fruits and vegetables

Make fruit-based desserts and vegetable-based appetizers. Holiday dishes that keep fruits and vegetables in mind leave less room for the not-so-healthy ingredients and still serve delicious treats to diners.

Recipes abound on the internet so try to find something that you and your partygoers will enjoy.

Drink plenty of water

To curb your appetite, drink 2 to 3 liters of water before the party and sip water during the event. Even if you go one way straight to the desserts, you may find yourself less inclined to feast on them if you’ve already topped up water.

Eat healthy beforehand

By eating something healthy before you leave, you will refuel with things that are good for you – before you even approach the sweets and treats.

Get your children involved

If you have young children, let them join in the party planning. If you have a say in what is served at Christmas parties and meal times, it will make you fit for healthy decisions now and in the future.

Be nice to yourself

If you don’t fulfill your plans to stay healthy, don’t be too strict on yourself. We are all human and we sometimes make mistakes.

If things aren’t going the way you want, don’t give up on your health goals. Keep treating your body as best you can – because the next day is another great opportunity to get back on track.

Remember, you don’t have to follow all of these tips. Just pick the ones you think will work best for you while facing the temptation to overeat.

Caleb Lewis is a dietitian for Spectrum Health specializing in nutrition and dietetics at Andrews University’s College of Health & Human Services in Berrien Springs, Michigan.

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