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Holiday Health: Tips & Tricks

Senior woman and younger woman discussing holiday health tipsBy: Camila Cal, SeniorLivingGuide.com

As soon as November rolls around, it’s clear: the holidays have arrived! And everyone knows that with them, the holidays bring gatherings full of delectable food, treats, and spirits. It’s easy to gobble every plate in sight, but no matter the time of year, our health must still be top of mind. Stacey Silver with Mom’s Meals joined us on SeniorLivingGuide.com Podcast to discuss some tips and tricks to help seniors enjoy holiday festivities while also balancing healthy nutrition.

  • Moderation is key: There’s no shame in wanting to indulge during the holidays, but make sure your surrounding meals are providing the full, healthy nutrition you need. Instead of skipping meals to prepare for dinnertime, balance your eating throughout the day.
  • Take care of your body the next day: Eat a healthy, nutrient dense breakfast (oatmeal, fruit, etc.) the morning after a holiday meal.
  • Slow down: Silver explained that studies have shown how slower eating provides the stomach enough time to send the signals to your brain that say, “I’m full!” This will not only help you take your time to really enjoy the meal and people you’re surrounded with, but also helps encourage portion control.
  • Try small bites: One of Silver’s favorite tricks is to divide her plate into four sections: one quarter is filled with protein, another with carbohydrates, and the remaining two with green, non-starchy veggies. Avoid anything drowning in oil or heavy dressing/sauces. If there’s an option, add sauce on the side. Split desserts with others! These plating tips will allow you to have a healthy exploration of every food group available.
  • Stick to your sleep schedule: Studies have shown that irregular and poor-quality sleep can lead to bad eating habits. Stay on your normal schedule to improve mood and food choices during the day. This is especially true for seniors; as we age, it can be more difficult to recover after festivities.
  • Make food from scratch: By simply making your own soup, cranberry sauce, or similar dishes, you can reduce your sodium and sugar intake. This way you can add your own healthy spin to dishes: less butter in the green bean casserole, Plain Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise, baked turkey instead of fried, etc. Small swaps make big changes and could even start new holiday traditions!
  • Include more healthy choices: Improving nutrition is as simple as having healthier choices readily available. Including several vegetable dishes at dinner such as Brussel sprouts, roasted asparagus, carrots, sweet potatoes, and more, will encourage everyone to add healthy options to their plate. And vegetables make the table look bright and beautiful! Another option is to offer salad as an appetizer so that those important nutrients are obtained before filling up on other foods.
  • Maintain low stress levels: Holidays can be stressful, and stress can lead to many health issues, including higher blood glucose levels. Keeping up with normal, everyday habits such as exercise, relaxation, and meditation, can help.
  • Stay in motion: Consistency with exercise is very important. Try to perform at least 150 minutes of SeniorLivingGuide.com Podcast Bannermoderate/intense aerobic exercise per week year-round, including holidays. It doesn’t have to be complicated: walking, in-home workouts, YouTube video workouts, etc., will all help maintain mental and physical health, as well as maintain stress levels. Participate in a turkey run or other holiday exercise events!
  • Plan ahead: If someone else is hosting a holiday meal, you may not know what’s going to be served. Check in with host prior to the meal, especially if you have food allergies, to determine what your options are. If you’re taking medication, adjust your eating times accordingly. Pack a snack for yourself or offer to bring a healthy appetizer or side dish!
  • Monitor consumption of spirits: Enjoy alcohol in moderation. Remember that alcohol contains sugar and carbs, though not always in equal amounts. Beer is higher in carbs, and cocktails (depending on ingredients) are often loaded with sugar. The best rule of thumb is to limit alcohol to two drinks or less for men and one drink or less for women, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Most importantly, keep in mind that food, although a fun part of traditions, is not the reason for the season! The holidays are really about spending quality time with friends and family and soaking in the moments that truly matter. With these tips, seniors will be able to not only enjoy the wonderful treats that come with the holidays, but will also be their best, healthiest self for themselves and their loved ones.

For more senior and caregiver resource podcasts, visit SeniorLivingGuide.com Podcasts or they can be found most anywhere you enjoy music or podcasts such as Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Podchaser, and more!

Stacey Silver with Mom’s Meals additional podcast episode link: Healthy Insides & Foods That Fight Disease…Naturally

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