If you blinked, you may have missed it, but we are already well into the month of December. The holidays are upon us. ‘Tis the season for family, festivities, and FOOD! Here at Cedar Park Pediatric & Family Medicine, we want you to enjoy every moment of the holidays, while also maintaining a high level of health. So as the holidays draw near, let us take a moment to outline a few strategies to prepare you for your family, friend, and work-related get-togethers.
Close your eyes and think for a second about your favorite holiday dish. What are you picturing? Sweet potato casserole with a mountain of gooey, lightly browned marshmallows on top? A golden-brown turkey baked to perfection with just the right flavor? A juice prime rib or ham? Or is it the classic pumpkin pie, made from a recipe that has been passed down for generations? And, what about holiday cookies? I for one am a fan of all! But before those dishes are in front of us, mentally preparing and having a game plan will help make dinner more enjoyable with no regrets! A game plan could be as simple as deciding now what you really want to enjoy instead of piling on every dish in the line.
Our body has numerous ways of telling us that we are full. One of them is by signaling to our brain that we have eaten enough food to satiate us, or satisfy us. For example, when you fill your car with gas, the pump shuts off when the optimal amount is in the tank. The more common way our body tells us to stop eating, especially at a big holiday meal, is when the stomach stretches because it is too full, it tells the brain to stop eating because there is no more room. Think about how much you usually fill up your plate the first time through the line. Remember that we can always go back for more if we are still hungry. This is one of the times where quantity is not necessarily better than quality. Let’s not let our eyes be bigger than our stomachs!
As you sit down to eat, look around and savor the time you have with your family. As you chew, savor each bite because it may be a whole year before you have that favorite dish again. Slowing down while you eat also gives your body time to tell you if you are satiated, or satisfied, rather than full to the brim.
Get moving! The weather, especially here in Texas, is usually still really nice through December. So get outside and throw around the football or basketball, or sign up for a festive run or take your family to walk through local light displays.
As wonderful as holiday food is, not all of it would be considered healthy. Take some time to look on Pinterest or your favorite search engine for healthy alternatives to traditional dishes. To get you started, here is a healthier pumpkin pie recipe, and here is a pumpkin spice latte recipe. If you’re craving peppermint, try this Skinny Peppermint Mocha.
About the Author
Andrew Kester, FNP-C, is a certified Nurse Practitioner on the Family Medicine team at Cedar Park Pediatric & Family Medicine.