When it comes to holiday food, I grew up with a ‘love-love’ relationship. Traditions of the season meant indulging in once-a-year specialties– from Aunt Bonnie’s pies and Racine Kringle to making homemade pizza with Aunt Bev.
I eat very differently now from even a decade ago. There are many reasons for this, ranging from food sensitivities (hold the onions, please!) to just plain knowing how to cook and eat healthier. I more easily resist foods that I know will leave me feeling blah, over-stuffed or unsettled. I am better at making room for the must-have holiday traditions that feel good and are ‘worth it’. And I can balance these decisions with post-meal walks—a newer holiday tradition for my family.
For me, Healthy snacking is one key to eating mindfully during the holidays. Yes, snacking! When my normal eating routine goes out the window due to holiday travel, pot lucks and meals at all hours, I rely even more on healthy snacks to keep me fueled and to stave off the hunger-impulse to overeat at meal time.
I’ve taken to traveling with a small spice jar filled with trail mix. The dried berries and nuts tide me over between meals. The spice jar is durable and a great size for my purse or travel bag. It’s a fantastic way to repurpose the used spice jars after the holidays. And the portion size is just right!
While it can be helpful overall, snacking does add more calories to your daily intake. Here are a few tips for mindful and healthy snacking through the holidays and beyond:
- Choose healthy snacks that add good value. Go for snacks that help you get to your ‘five a day’ servings of fruits and vegetables. Snacks that have good proteins (low-sugar yogurt, nuts, a boiled egg) can also help stave off hunger.
- Portion your snacks. The size of the snack matters—too big and you’ve just had another meal! Too small and you’re left still hungry. For me, a healthy snack of around 200 calories works well, this may be different for you. Try a variety and observe—what snacks and amounts work well for you?
- Plan ahead. If you know your normal routine will be shifted, think ahead about what meals you’ll have and prepare for snacks where you think you’ll need them. Especially when traveling, I find it helpful to pack snacks. Not only does this save me money, it helps me make healthier choices.
Check out the ideas in the Eat Smart, Move More NC Snacks and Drinks guide, and have a happy, healthy holiday!