It’s time to deck the halls, light candles and visit with friends. From fancy cocktail affairs to cozy kitchen gatherings, people from coast to coast are getting together and bringing out their favorite fare during this season. While a little bit of nibbling can be okay for most people when done in moderation, overdoing the treats can cause serious health concerns.
What Foods to Avoid
Consumed mindlessly or in large quantities, any food can wreak havoc on your health. However, during the holiday season, these seem to be more frequently available than at other times of the year:
- Tempting beverages. Alcoholic beverages, in general, can cause a variety of health concerns, such as cirrhosis of the liver or increased blood pressure, and alcohol consumption increases during the holiday season. Beyond concerns about over-consumption, seasonal favorites like eggnog, buttered rum and mulled cider tend to have significant amounts of fat and sugar that should be avoided.
- Fatty meats. Prime rib, pot roast and the darker cuts of turkey will weigh you down with their high saturated fat content. (And this doesn’t even take the gravy into account!)
- Rich, creamy sauces. Drenching mashed potatoes and topping green beans, these sauces certainly add appeal to your veggies, but they also increase the amount of fat, sodium and sugar in the dishes.
- Extra candies. Candy canes are traditional sweets, but they are simply loaded with high fructose corn syrup that rubs up against your teeth, so be aware! And, there are other sugary culprits too: bowls of peppermints, Grandma’s fudge, and Auntie’s peanut brittle pop to mind.
From avoiding cardiac issues to maintaining hormone balance, food plays a critical role in your overall health and well-being. That’s why it’s important to become more aware of what you’re eating during this festive season.
How to Stay Holly Jolly
Of course, being careful doesn’t mean that you should skip out on all the fun! Instead, try these suggestions for taking part in the festivities without sacrificing your overall health.
- Pick your favorites. Have a taste of the favorites you crave, but limit it to just a bite or two and be selective about which you choose.
- Select healthier options. Grab a few nuts instead of heavy hors d’oeuvres. Enjoy a salad instead of the green bean casserole. Try gingerbread or pumpkin pie at dessert time instead of pecan pie or cheesecake.
- Drink water. Before you leave for the festivities, drink a glass of water. This will help to control your appetite so you don’t over-graze.
- Investigate alternatives. Instead of butter in baking, consider apple sauce. Instead of heavy cream, use low-fat milk. Try whole-grain rice instead of mashed potatoes. A quick search online will offer plenty of alternatives to help you cut down on fat, sugar and sodium in your cooking.
- Try tracking. Since this time of year can be so hectic, consider keeping a food log or using a calorie counter app. Using one can help you become more aware of the choices that you’re making at each gathering, and help you remember all the fun items you’ve already nibbled on.
Know Your Body
While most people can sample a sweet treat or delve into a fatty dip once in a while, there are cases where a stricter diet is still advised. For instance, people who are managing their diabetes or have specific food sensitivities may need to bring extra caution to their diet as they join in the fun! If you want to know where you stand as the holiday season approaches, walk into your local Any Lab Test Now for a screening. Doing so will allow you to indulge a little bit while still knowing that your body can handle the impact of the food you’re enjoying.