Hilton Head Health Registered Dietitian, Felicia Hackett
The food is made with love and holiday cheer. Family and friends have finally arrived. Throughout the house, there are homemade sugar cookies and gingerbread men that are perfectly or not so perfectly frosted, tasty dill dip in a bowl made of rye bread, peppermint candy canes, yummy cheese and crackers, and red and green foiled candies. For dinner, the buffet is set with an attractive basted turkey or honey glazed ham, grandma’s stuffing, classic green bean casserole, buttered mashed potatoes, and candied yams. After dinner, the whipped heavy cream topping is placed next to the pecan and pumpkin pie signaling that dessert is ready.
How does that sound for a Christmas day spread?
Pause for a moment and think what Christmas means to you and your family. For me, it is about breaking bread; having a friendly and engaging meal in a comfortable, inviting environment with the people you hold dearly to your heart.
"Food for thought: have we been so engrained in our tradition that breaking bread has now become breaking habits, nutrition habits in this case?"
Intuitively, food that is familiar is food that we like.
Pump the breaks on holiday foods like the ones listed above and begin shifting your mindset to more nourishing foods. Experts agree that wholesome, healthful foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, lentils, nuts, and seeds are linked to positive health outcomes. This Christmas nourish yourself and choose not to diet. If we are in the dieting mentality we hold feelings of guilt and regret for enjoying foods that we have, over the years of dieting, labeled “bad”.
Feelings like these only damper the holiday spirit.
To Diet is the practice of eating food in a regulated and supervised fashion to decrease, maintain, or increase body weight. To Nourish is to provide food necessary for growth, health, and good condition. In contrast to dieting, if we practice having a nourishing mentality we are expressing feelings of satisfaction and contentment. To keep on track this December, ask yourself a simple question before you eat, Is this food nourishing?
- Create a menu that highlights steamed, baked, or sautéed vegetables with fresh herbs.
- Decrease the amount of added sugars in your day by using half the sugar the recipe calls for in candied yams and like foods. And instead of honey glazed ham, try smoked ham; or just like salad dressing have the glaze on the side.
- Add whole grains to the menu by making a whole wheat bread stuffing.
- Cut down on dessert options, because having variety of desserts quickly becomes a tasting of the variety of desserts.
This Christmas, give yourself a gift by tossing out the dieting mentality and embracing the concept of “to nourish”.