This time of year, the allure of rich food and sugary sweets is difficult to resist. But for older adults, indulging in moderation may be imperative. Whether being mindful of health conditions or simply wanting to celebrate the holiday season for many years to come, many seniors keep a close eye on nutrition and diet throughout the season. When keeping your plate healthy seems difficult, we’ve got you covered with our breakdown of the biggest obstacles to healthy eating during the holidays and the best ways to have your cookies and eat your veggies, too.
Obstacles to Healthy Holiday Eating
It’s difficult to know how to avoid unhealthy eating if you don’t first identify what can get in the way of sticking to your diet plan. So let’s talk about the pressures that make it harder to keep a balanced diet during the holidays.
One of the best parts of the holidays is spending time with loved ones and family. Unfortunately, all those get-togethers often come with delectable holiday treats and the temptation to over-indulge. Even the strongest of wills can crumble when offered a homemade cookie or three from your adorable grandchildren or great-grandchildren. Add the warm and cozy conversation accompanied by equally cozy drinks and dishes and suddenly you’re way over your sodium or sugar limit for the day and it’s barely three o’clock in the afternoon. Social overeating is one of the most common pitfalls for seniors this time of year.
Abundance of Goodies
Almost everywhere you turn during the holidays, you’ll find something sweet or rich and savory to try. This is the time of year when everyone pulls out their most indulgent recipes to warm the chilly winter nights and share their best dishes with family and friends. From bacon-wrapped everything to chocolate-covered treats, the holidays are notorious for hosting an abundance of unhealthy food choices. When it’s all right there at your fingertips, slipping up is so much easier.
Top 3 Tips for Healthy Holiday Eating
Even when surrounded with all the high-calorie, unhealthy-but-delicious food the holiday season is famous for, it’s important for older adults to pay attention to their intake. A well-balanced diet offers benefits that go far beyond the taste buds, and those health-boosting incentives are a must for aging adults. If you find the holiday season hard to handle when it comes to sticking to healthy eating, here are our top tips to keep you and your well-being on track.
Indulge in Moderation
Restricting yourself from enjoying the goodies entirely can be what takes you off the rails. There’s no reason to completely avoid all the delicious foods the holidays have to offer as long as you’ve talked with your doctor about your diet beforehand, but remember there is power in moderation. Have a few of your favorite treats and savor them, sticking to healthier choices the rest of the season.
A lot of holiday overeating occurs at the hands of a busy schedule and a wandering mind. During this busy time of year, making your health a priority can be as simple as focusing on mindful eating. When you are snacking on the season’s best eats, take the time to be present in that moment with that meal. Focus on your hunger cues and know when to stop to avoid overdoing it.
Likewise, if your body is craving some greens, don’t settle for a tree-shaped sugar cookie. Listen to what your body tells you it needs and nourish it appropriately.
Ask for Alternatives
If you can’t find great balance outside of the holiday gatherings, sometimes asking for alternatives is the best thing you can do. If your family sets the menu ahead of time, use that planning period to ask for what you need, and if multiple people bring dishes, cook your favorite healthy dish to bring along for all to enjoy. There’s nothing wrong with introducing new food choices and creating healthier traditions to celebrate with your family and loved ones. Asking for more vegetable-focused side dishes or starting the evening with a salad rich in leafy greens is a great way to keep your health in mind without giving up the love and celebration that the holidays bring.
How Retirement Communities Help Promote Healthy Eating
Sometimes, controlling the menu at gatherings can be incredibly difficult. For those occasions, focus on what you can control. As a resident at Harbour’s Edge, what you can control is plenty! With our wellness experts, you can dial in a plan that will keep your food choices health-focused all year round, which makes tempting times like the holidays much easier to handle. We also offer a wide variety of dining options for whatever your needs may be, from casual, nutritious dining to a private space for big events featuring a robust menu with many healthy options.
At the end of the day, the holidays are best enjoyed like everything else in our golden years — well-balanced and filled with love.