By Carolina Sierra, Nutrition Services Coordinator
Putting restrictions on foods that we love and grew up with can be a source of distress. Part of your holiday self-care routine can include allowing yourself to enjoy your favorite foods in the company of family and friends, and when you are doing that, please keep the following in mind:
- Cook your favorite foods: Instead of buying favorite foods and treats at the store, plan to cook them in-house and invite friends and family to join you. This will give you complete control on ingredients, allowing you to reduce sugars, sodium, and food additives like artificial coloring and artificial sweeteners, which can be excessive in store-bought items.
- Eat with intention and attention: Set a positive intention when eating your food. When enjoying your foods, pay attention to the body cues and take breaks to determine whether you are satisfied or not.
- Maintain your regular eating pattern: Avoiding regular meals to “have enough space” to eat everything at a holiday banquet can cause blood sugar imbalances and overeating. Allow yourself to eat at your regular times and pay attention to hunger cues to fully enjoy the food during the festivities.
- Include all food groups on your plate, yes, vegetables too: Aside from those favorite foods (treats included), always make space for vegetables; serve ones you like and motivate yourself to even try new ones. If eating sweets, limit the amount of starchy vegetables (potatoes and winter squashes) and increase non/starchy options such as spinach, broccoli, chard, radishes, tomatoes, carrots, cauliflower, and cabbage.
- Have pleasant conversations: Enjoy pleasant conversations while eating. This will improve digestion and will make you aware of hunger cues. If repeating a dish, take a 10-minute break and make sure you are still hungry before grabbing the next bite.
Lastly, remember that holidays bring a space to pause from our hectic schedules, and embrace the company of our loved ones. They also bring a space to practice self-awareness and discover mindfully what we like and brings us joy. I invite you to take time during this season to reflect on your achievements of the year and your resolutions for 2020. Happy Holidays!
About Carolina Sierra: Carolina Sierra is a food enthusiast! She believes that although positive connections with food start from an early age, they can be practiced at various ages. “Healthy habits are learned gradually and should not be rushed, in the contrary, they should be embraced and experienced as when eating a chocolate ice cream”. Originally from Venezuela, Carolina obtained a BS in Agro-industrial Engineering, with a focus on Food Science. After moving to the U.S and seeing first hand detrimental food habits, she decided to seek her Master of Science and Integrative Health at Maryland University of Integrative Health in Laurel, MD. She has recently joined Mary’s Center team’s Nutrition department.