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Healthy Holiday Tips (Part 1)

This is my favorite time of year. Cinnamon, cozy sweaters, scarves (I have a slight obsession even though I don’t live in a cold climate anymore), pumpkins and poinsettas, homemade cookies… For many people this time of year is also very stressful. It’s an either an all-or-nothing food fest which you regret in January, or it’s a season of deprivation for the sake of health. But, it doesn’t have to be this way. Let’s toast to making smart decisions, giving in to temptation within reason, and balancing out the holiday parties and treats with healthy habits!

Don’t skip meals. We think we’re making the right choice by skipping breakfast and lunch for a big dinner party. The problem: you’re blood sugar will be all over the place, you’ll be cranky, moody, and so starved by the time that dinner arrives that overeating is completely unavoidable. (If I were your body, I’d tell you to overeat too!). And where do you think that big dinner will end up? Yep, on your hips and belly. Your body thinks you are starving and will try to store every last ounce in case of another famine. Solution: EAT! Be sure to eat PROTEIN, especially at breakfast, to start your metabolism off on the right foot.

Fill up before going out.  Sounds counter intuitive, but it’s just like taking trips to the grocery store when you’re hungry. Inevitably the donuts will just appear in your cart. And at the dinner party, those 12 cookies will magically vanish. Solution: Snack Smart! Grab a small handful of nuts, a greek yogurt, or a string cheese before heading out the door (note that these snacks all have satiating protein and fat and not a ton of carbs). Having a little food in your belly will prevent an all-out binge and keep you more mindful of your portions.

Watch the drinks. Egg nog, spiced cider, hot toddy’s. These all sound delicious, and they are, but they also pack a lot of sugar. Would you rather have an extra cookie or an extra drink? Yeah, I’d rather have the cookie too! Getting tipsy also distracts you from your body’s hunger signals. Solution: Start with WATER! Only start drinking sweet or alcoholic beverages when the appetizers come out and limit yourself to 2 a night.

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More healthy tips to come! Happy Thanksgiving everyone. I’m excited to eat this homemade pie tomorrow!

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Lily Nichols is a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist, Certified Diabetes Educator, researcher, and author with a passion for evidence-based prenatal nutrition and exercise. Her work is known for being research-focused, thorough, and unapologetically critical of outdated dietary guidelines. She is the author of two bestselling books, Real Food for Pregnancy and Real Food for Gestational Diabetes.

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