Are the holidays synonymous with hectic in your household, making it difficult to maintain your healthy eating habits? No need. With a little planning you can be sure your diet still contains all the necessary nutrients, leaving just enough room for those holiday indulgences.
Be Prepared for Any Scenario!
Scenario 1 > The family dinner at Aunt Butter … er … I mean Aunt Bertha’s house. You are going to a family dinner that you know will have veggies on the menu (yay!) but you also know those veggies tend to be drowned in butter.
Bring Your Own. If it won’t insult the host, ask if you can bring something. Wow her/him with your steamed veggies sans butter and salt. No one else “wowed” by them? Great, more for you!
Make Up for It Later. If you aren’t able to bring something or it isn’t appropriate, this is one time that I would say step away from the veggies. This also means you know that your other meal this day should have A LOT of veggies to make up for the skipping you know you will be doing.
Scenario 2 > The season-long office party with snacks and lunches galore. Desserts and lunch invites lurking behind every corner?
Decline. If it won’t hurt your career, it’s okay to decline and stick to the balanced brown bag lunch you packed half full of fruits and veggies with some lean protein, whole grains and a yogurt.
Choose Wisely. Declining not an option and lunch is ordered for you? Make the best choices with what you are presented and remember that you have dried and canned fruit, nuts, and whole grain crackers stashed in your desk that you can snack on later (you do have those on hand, right?)
Eating out? You’re in luck! Restaurants are catering to healthier eating habits, offering salads with dressings on the side and soups full of veggies on most lunch menus. You may need to pack some fruit to eat later as a snack but that’s easy considering all the fresh options available that are in season now.
Scenario 3 > You forgot what your kitchen looks like! Between parties, shopping trips, and (fill in the blank for you) errands, you just can’t find time to cook.
Prep & Go. Keep pre-cut veggies in snack bags and grab them when you are at home or take them on the go.
Be Efficient! Portion fruit and nut granola and keep ready – that will foot the bill for 3 food groups and is a great snack on the run or if you have 5 minutes, add it to yogurt.
All Forms Matter! Stock your pantry with canned fruit in natural juices and no-salt-added canned veggies. Fill your freezer with fruits and veggies. These will last all season and ensure you have an option when getting to the grocery store wasn’t an option! Fresh, Frozen, Canned, Dried, 100% Juice – All Forms of Fruits & Veggies Matter
10-Minute Dinner. Try steam-in-bag potatoes, steam-in-bag broccoli and leftover protein (or rotisserie chicken). 5 more minutes? Fruit smoothie for dessert.
Bottom line: Focus on filling up on fruits and veggies first, and then lean protein and whole grains. Wherever you are and whenever you get a chance to eat, make both meals and snacks count!
Caroline Passerrello, MS, RD, LDN
Manager of Dietitian Initiatives
Giant Eagle, Inc