Remembering Joy: Handling Nutrition through the Holidays and Beyond
Image via Rob’s Guig at freeimages.com
Guest Post by Christie Caggiani, RDN, LDN, CEDRD
Dietitian / Nutrition Therapist
Therapeutic Oasis of the Palm Beaches
Ready or not, it’s here. The holiday season has arrived. No matter how much we said we’d be prepared for it this year, it has still plopped right in our calendar with what seemed like little warning. And we thought back-to-school was a busy time? Rehearsals, play-offs, concerts, school projects and mid-term exams quickly consume days and evenings, leaving precious little time for holiday shopping, card sending, home decorating and, oh, right – regular meals?!?! How in the world can we slow down long enough to consider our family’s need for nutrition?
Yet it may be helpful to think of this another way: We are so incredibly busy, how can we NOT stop to think about our family’s need for fuel? A little bit of forethought prevents many future headaches, both literally and figuratively:
- Use those brief seconds of downtime to plan a few moments ahead. While you’re waiting for the concert to begin or are at a standstill in the car line, jot down a few simple meals, then add the ingredients to the grocery list in your phone.
- Keep ready-to-assemble meal components in the house at all times: steamer veggies & rice and fast-cooking chicken cutlets can make it to the table in less than 15 minutes.
- Take care of you: no skimping, skipping, restricting or dieting. Eat regular and timely meals and snacks on “normal” days as well as on “event” days. Saving up for a holiday meal or party diminishes the enjoyment you will have when you finally eat, and makes it extremely difficult to understand when you’re satisfied. Plus, you’ll be crabby and no fun to be around!
- Model connected eating by asking yourself regularly if you’re physically hungry. When the answer is yes, eat. Don’t ignore it, wrap 10 more gifts or bake more cookies. Simply respond to your hunger. The same goes for listening to your kids when they tell you they’re hungry – honor their need for fuel on a regular, consistent basis.
- Holiday meals are often filled with flavor and are therefore an amazing opportunity for us to explore and notice satisfaction: let your kids smell the savory stuffing, taste an old family recipe, or try to discover which food has bacon in it!
- Do something to connect with your kids every day, and just as importantly, do something just for yourself daily. This will help you remember what’s truly important this season – and always.
- When holiday goodies make it to your kitchen, remember not to label food as good or bad. Let your kids have dessert with the meal sometimes, don’t overvalue it, and absolutely keep it around as long as it lasts. And hey, who says you can’t make Christmas cookies in July anyway?
Holidays truly can be a joyful time, if you slow down just long enough to honor your hunger, present food to your family on a regular and timely basis, and enjoy some Christmas cookies and hot chocolate along the way! Cheers!
Holiday Eating is more of an Attitude and an Attunement than it is a rule or a plan.