Sweet Temptations: Making Healthy Choices During the Holidays

healthy holiday eating

No matter your age, the holidays are a time for guilty pleasures. For those of us who work full-time, our offices are beginning to smell like bakeries with all the sweet treats piling up. Every coffee chain is offering a new indulgent holiday drink, and if you’re a grandparent, it’s hard to resist the urge to bake cookies with the grandkids.

In my newest book “The Power of 5: The Ultimate Formula for Longevity & Remaining Youthful,” I talk about the significance of sweets and how our bodies react to the foods we eat. As we enjoy the holiday season, it’s important to understand how even just a few weeks of overindulging can dish out long-term effects. Here are a few suggestions for getting through this time of year:

Holiday Parties

Eat light the day of your office or social group holiday party. If it is a lunch affair, have a light breakfast that morning. Avoid eating a large, carbohydrate-filled meal leading up to your party. If it is a dinner, have a light snack between lunch and dinner to avoid feeling hungry as soon as you enter the venue. Give your digestive system 15-20 minutes after your last bite before going back for seconds at the buffet or opting for dessert. This allows your body to tell your brain if you are full ahead of time.

Family Dinner Celebrations

No matter which holiday you celebrate, it’s hard to decline an extra cookie or refill of eggnog, especially with the pressures of wanting to please everyone. If given the choice, skip the bread or appetizers before dinner in order to save room for dessert.

Snack Awareness

It’s easy to forget that one of the best parts of life is savoring the food we eat. In our society, we place a lot of focus on convenience. If we’re not focused on the process of eating, we can easily forget how much we’ve consumed. For example, snacking while driving is not only unsafe, but it’s also robotic in terms of reaching for food while we’re watching the road. The same goes for sitting in front of the television. If we’re focused on watching a program like the holiday parade, we may not even realize how much we’ve eaten.

Less is More

It may sound cliché, but again, so true to form in our day and age. If you rely on coffee to get you through the day, cut back on those oversized sweet drinks to a smaller version. Try and resist keeping a bowl of holiday candy in your living room or office. Keep healthy snacks, fresh cut veggies, fruit, and bottled water handy, especially if you have several holiday events and get-togethers planned throughout the month.

I hope you find these tips helpful. If you’d like to learn more ways to enjoy the sweetness of life while maintaining good health, I invite you to read my book and let me know how it’s impacted you.

To a long and healthy life (and Happy Holiday Season),
David Bernstein, MD