The holidays evoke certain memories in us all. And chances are that some of those memories include meals shared with family and friends. Turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, green bean casserole — it all adds up. And don’t even get us started on the pie and cookies.
For older adults in particular, it may seem that the calories don’t come off as easily as they once did. Health issues, such as high cholesterol and diabetes, are more common as we get older and call for less indulgence.
The holidays are full of temptations when it comes to breaking that balanced diet you’ve worked so hard to stick with for the rest of the year. It’s true for all of us. But what can you do about it?
We’ve put together some insights and tips to help you eat healthier this holiday season.
Why It’s Hard to Eat Healthy During the Holidays
Before we dive into our healthy holiday eating tips, it’s important to understand why it’s so hard to eat healthy during the holidays in the first place.
- Food is readily available. The holidays encourage us to break out an exhausting array of main course meal options and side dishes. And then, of course, there is dessert. It is tempting to want to “try a little bit of everything.” All those helpings can start to add up.
- We have emotional attachments with our food. As we have already established, the holidays evoke memories and a lot of those memories involve enjoying a certain type of food. After all, what are the holidays without your favorite family recipes?
- It’s easy to make exceptions. Have you ever told yourself: “It’s one day, what’s the big deal?” Or maybe: “I’m not going to worry about checking my blood sugar today.” The holidays make it all too easy to put off that healthy diet you’ve been trying to follow.
Yes, you want to live life to the fullest. But take a moment to think about how you felt in the past after overindulging. Eating healthier gives you more energy for spending time with loved ones and/or enjoying your favorite hobbies.
Healthy Eating Tips for Seniors During the Holidays
It’s easy to slip up and eat too much during the holidays, regardless of your best intentions. However, there are some ways to give yourself an edge in your mission to eat healthier.
Don’t Fast Before a Big Meal
While it may be tempting to skip breakfast in place of eating more at lunch or dinner, this approach can actually backfire. Once you hit the dining room table, you may overindulge and also eat so fast that your body doesn’t even have time to send signals that you are full.
Consider lighter meals — or more lean, yet filling food options — for the rest of your day.
Downsize the Holiday Menu
No matter who’s doing the cooking, it’s likely they are preparing more food than anyone can consume in one sitting. Sure, enjoying leftovers is business as usual for many of us during the holidays. But having fewer food options on the table overall can also help you eat less. As an added bonus this will reduce the amount of dishes someone has to do after finishing all of the cooking. This also gives you more time and energy to share with others or relax in peace!
Get Creative With the Veggies
Now that vegetarian and vegan diets have become more popular, there are a lot of amazing recipes for healthy yet flavorful vegetable dishes. Whether you crave green beans, brussels sprouts, asparagus, broccoli or some other type of vegetable, there’s likely a fun recipe to try.
Mix Up Your Sources of Protein
Protein is something that older adults still need plenty of in their diet. In place of turkey or ham, why not consider salmon or a healthy meatless dish containing beans, tempeh or lentils? And if you still crave turkey, there are healthier ways of preparing your favorite meat of choice.
All Things in Moderation
It’s the holidays and you want to enjoy the food you love. That’s perfectly fine. Just try your best not to overindulge. Avoid loading up your plate. You can always go back for seconds if you’re still hungry. Slow down while eating and really savor the flavor. Let your digestive system run its course and you may find that you realize you are full before diving in for seconds or thirds.
How The Waterford Promotes Healthy Eating
At The Waterford, a Life Care community in Juno Beach, Florida, we make dining an experience. Independent living residents can enjoy meals in either our formal dining room or at the more laid-back Grille Room, which offers outdoor seating for those who prefer to dine al fresco.
No matter where or how you choose to dine, The Waterford’s skilled culinary team will provide a healthy and inspired dining experience. Our chefs are always mixing up the menu and we also offer special menu options during the holidays.
If you would like to learn more about The Waterford’s dining options, you can reach out using the form on this page or give us a call at 561.627.3800.