Dietitians aren’t the most revered people around this time of year. The general perception is that we take the jolly out of holiday gatherings.
I love good food and I love to eat. And I completely believe in the 80/20 rule. You know the one I am talking about: spend 80% of your time on the 20% of things that count.
When applied to food that means spend 80% of your food budget consuming healthful foods that increase your likelihood of avoiding chronic diseases and keeping your A1C in good control.
That leaves plenty of wiggle room.
So this year I am not going to tell you how you can eat a low fat Thanksgiving dinner on 45 or 60 grams of carbohydrate. I am not going to provide a list of recipes for “mashed potatoes” made with cauliflower, or tell you should eat the pumpkin pie instead of apple pie because it has fewer carbs. If you want to learn how to do that, pick up just about any diabetes or fitness magazine.
Instead, I am going to remind you that healthy eating is about having a game plan for the long haul and feeling comfortable indulging on an occasional basis without fear of bringing your A1C up 2 percentage points or feeling guilty because you ate 115 grams of carbohydrate at the holiday dinner.
I don’t think one or two high calorie meals make much difference in the scheme of things.
In the six weeks between Thanksgiving and New Years, decide on the meals that you want to fully enjoy without becoming a poster child for the “sin” of gluttony. The rest? Well, they become everyday meals — you use your meal plan just as you would at home.
Remember Thanksgiving and New Years dinners add up to only two meals and for those of you who celebrate Christmas – a total of three meals. If you remember 80/20 you will be just fine.
So here are ten more basic, common sense rules for the holidays (actually for any food
- Never let yourself “starve” Use the hunger scale to figure out how hungry you are and if you are starting to move into the 3 and below rankings, have a small snack.
- Enjoy the conversation and the company — Eat slowly enough to give your brain time to register that you are filling up and aren’t hungry anymore.
- Know the count — if you carb count, get to know the carb counts of typical holiday foods, not so you can limit yourself but so that you can give the appropriate amount of insulin.
- Choose your celebration splurges — which ones have sumptuous food you don’t want to pass up and which ones do you want the company to be the main attraction.
- Concentrate on the vegetables and proteins first to help reduce your appetite.
- Eat what you want not what other people want you to eat.
- Practice the art of the polite decline — you can still show Aunt Masie that you love her, even if you don’t want to eat her fruitcake.
- Leave the table before you are full.
- You don’t need to try everything today — that’s what leftovers are for.
- When you move away from the table, keep moving. After-dinner is a great time to put on your new hat and gloves and take in the vistas in your aunt’s neighborhood (the football game will still be there when you get back).
Those are my common sense rules for dealing with holiday eating. What are yours?
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