Bits and Bites: 10 tips for holiday wellness

Monday, November 21, 2022 Bits and Bites: 10 tips for holiday wellness

Pumpkins, maize and orange tomatoes on a table top.

written by Ellyn McCarter, Dining Services registered dietitian and nutrition manager, and Sarah Keegan, University Health Center registered dietitian

The holiday season brings delicious food, time with family, and love-to-hate movies. It’s a busy time of year, and there is always something going on. Occasionally, the activities and obligations can feel a bit overwhelming. Every family has their own traditions to celebrate the season, and many of these traditions are centered around food. Below are ten tips and activities you can incorporate into your customs to keep wellness and healthful eating in your festivities.

1. Feature Variety: Enjoy foods from all the food groups. Try whole grain crackers and hummus as an appetizer; add beans and nuts to the leafy green salad; enjoy a fresh fruit salad with your dessert.

2. Modify the Recipe: Try using reduced-fat milk instead of heavy cream in your casseroles; use a little less sugar than the recipe calls for; try mashed banana or unsweetened applesauce instead of butter. These small modifications can increase the nutritional value of your recipes.

3. Creative Creations: Make a new game of who can come up with the most creative dish using the leftovers. How does turkey tetrazzini sprinkled with leftover vegetables or cranberry walnut oats sound? Flex your creative muscles and see what fun dishes you come up with.

4. Savor Your Favorite Foods: Instead of overindulging the entire holiday season, select one or two days that you will treat yourself. Plan which foods or beverages you want to include on those identified days and savor them.

5. After Meal Stroll: Take the fun outside for a post-meal walk. Enjoy the company and conversation of family and friends while you also add some mindful movement to the mix. If your family enjoys competition, incorporate active games like football, soccer, or tag into your celebrations.

6. Don’t Skip a Meal: If you typically skip a meal the day of the big holiday feast to save room for your favorite foods, try having a smaller meal or snack to hold you over. Choose something high in protein like Greek yogurt or fruit with a ½ cup of cottage cheese.

7. Rethink your Drink: Seltzer water with a splash of fruit juice or water with lemon are delicious low-calorie options to sip on during the day. They are hydrating and delicious! If you enjoy a high-calorie drink like eggnog, try having it between a meal as a snack or in place of dessert.

8. Remember Your Veggies: Most people need three cups of veggies a day and holidays aren't an exception. Fill half of your plate with vegetables during the big meal. Jazz up your veggie recipes like roasted brussels sprouts with bacon and pecans or beets with goat cheese.

9. Give Back: Pair the holidays with acts of service. Give back to your community through volunteering or donating items to local food pantries or shelters.

10. Be Present: Enjoy the time you spend with your family and friends. Laugh, dance, and play games to recharge your batteries.

Healthful eating is just one part of wellness, and it is all about balance. The holidays are a great time to practice mindful eating by enjoying every bite you take using all your senses and expressing gratitude. Chew slowly, savor deeply, and incorporate these tips to keep wellness a part of the holidays.

Students can schedule a telehealth appointment with the University Health Center registered dietitian if they want personalized nutrition advice for their goals. The first nutrition counseling visit is covered by student fees, and follow-up visits can be submitted to private insurance. Call 402-472-5000 to schedule an appointment.

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