Stephanie Perez, MS, RDN, Clinical Nutrition Manager at Bacharach
During the holidays, it seems like there is always another bite of delicious – and non-nutritious – food at arm’s length. For health-conscious individuals, it can be hard to fight the temptation and make the right choice.
Stephanie Perez, MS, RDN, Clinical Nutrition Manager at Bacharach’s main campus, has been advising patients on their holiday health for 17 years. She offers these tips for eating healthy during the holidays.
- Plan ahead: If you know you’ll be at an event with abundance of food, it doesn’t hurt to devise a plan of how much you’ll eat and what foods you will avoid or allow yourself to enjoy.
- Smaller portions: Try using a smaller plate to limit your food intake – this will help avoid the inevitable “food coma.”
- Load up on veggies: Load your plate with veggies and eat those first before you dig into the rest of your meal. You’ll get full faster and won’t be as tempted to pig out on the extra caloric food.
- Clean out the cabinets: Don’t keep food in your house that you know is a temptation. If you have leftover goodies, share them with your neighbors, friends or family.
- Flush your system: Drink non-sugary and non-alcoholic beverages throughout the holidays to keep your system clean and help with digestion.
- Get your Zzzz’s: Science shows that getting enough sleep improves your choices, mood and behavior. Try to get at least 7-8 hours per night.
Stephanie also recommends healthy substitutes for holiday meals. Extra virgin olive oil and avocado oil are great substitutes for butter and/or margarine. She also encourages incorporating nuts, seeds or cooked/pureed fruits, like cranberries, apples or blueberries, into baked goods. Chocolate lovers will appreciate that dark chocolate is good to incorporate in small quantities and substitute for non-nutritious treats. “The darker the chocolate is, the better. Chocolate contains flavonoids, which have been well-studied and are known to have protective effects for the vascular system,” says Stephanie.
When traveling during the holidays, Stephanie offers a couple quick tips on staying active, despite missing any “routine” workouts. “If you’re flying and have a layover, walk around the airport and get some steps in. If you’re traveling by car, stop as much as possible to stretch and get your blood flowing. Remember – it’s not the end of the world if you miss a workout. You will always start back up again.”
And if you’re looking for ways to monitor food intake during the holidays, yes, there’s an app for that!
Stephanie says there are countless nutrition and health apps, and recommends MyFitnessPal. “It has a huge database of foods and ingredients, whether store-bought, take-out or dine-in. It’s a great way to plan, control and track your meals,” she says. Another great resource is www.verywellfit.com – you can input a recipe and it will analyze it and give you the nutrition facts back. This is great for the adventurous eater who likes to try new dishes.