It’s a wonderful time of year for traveling and visiting family and friends. For those of us following certain diets, the holidays can feel like navigating through a minefield of dietary disasters! Here are practical ways to avoid derailing your dietary goals through the holiday season so that you feel motivated to end 2022 healthier than when you started it.
PLAN AHEAD – Last minute get-togethers and unplanned meals can mean chaos and confusion for your diet. Try to plan out your meals at home and be strict with your meal-prepping. Things get busy this time of year and eating out more often can upset your eating schedule, leading to blood sugar crashes and late-night snacking.
CHOOSE THE RESTAURANT – Whenever you are invited out this holiday season, volunteer yourself for the task of choosing the restaurant. That way you know there will be dishes there that fall into your dietary requirements. If the restaurant is already chosen, call ahead and ask if they are sensitive to patrons with special diets.
INFORM YOUR HOSTS – If you are traveling this season to visit family or friends, let your gracious hosts know about your dietary preferences in advance so they can stock up on some specific foods for you. This might seem “too much to ask” as a guest, but generally hosts want their guests to feel comfortable in their space and are happy to accommodate. If it’s family you’re staying with, hopefully they support your health decisions and want to set you up for success!
ALWAYS BRING SNACKS – Keeping your blood sugar stable during this holiday season will help you make better choices overall and the easiest way to do that is to ALWAYS have healthy snacks with you. Pick snacks that are shelf stable and high in protein to keep you full.
EAT BEFORE THE PARTY – If it’s a potluck or you are unclear on what the food options will be at an event, eat beforehand. Don’t get caught in a situation where you’re starving and the only food options are going to put your diet in jeopardy. Eating beforehand will ensure you enjoy yourself and make better choices without trying to fill up on just olives and pickles!
AVOID FOOD COMBINING – If you decide to “cheat” on your diet this holiday, be smart about it. Depending on your specific diet, avoid combining foods in the same meal that you are trying to avoid. For example, if you are trying to avoid dairy and gluten, order the panna cotta for dessert instead of the bread pudding – then you won’t be “doubling up” on potential problem foods.
BE PICKY ABOUT YOUR SWEETS – If you are indulging in some sugary delicacies this season, don’t let any old Christmas cookie sway you. Avoid the cheap boxed chocolates and hot cocoa packets and save your sweet cravings for homemade or higher-quality desserts that don’t have the food dye, corn syrup and artificial flavors.
Cheers to a healthy, happy holiday season!
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By Shelise Irby R.D., Body Love Cafe