5 BEST Tips On STICKING To Your Diet!
Sticking to a Special Diet During the Holidays
There’s no question that food plays a prominent role in holiday festivities. And this can leave you feeling left out if you follow a special diet for personal or health reasons — whether it’s for heart disease or diabetes, because you’re a vegetarian or sensitive to gluten, or for other purposes. Making healthy holiday food choices can mean fewer options when you have dietary restrictions.
Tips for Healthy Holiday Eating
Despite the overwhelming number of fatty and sugary dishes at parties and potlucks, it’s not a lost cause if you want to make healthy holiday food choices. In fact, simple strategies can help you stick to your special diet and make healthy eating during the holidays much easier.
If you’re going to a family dinner or potluck, one trick is to bring a healthy side dish (or two) with you and then load up your plate with those choices. You’ll be a gracious guest and stay healthy without anyone being the wiser. Alison Acerra, RD, a registered dietitian and national nutrition and wellness manager for Guckenheimer food services in the San Francisco area, says that whole-grain side dishes, Greek yogurt-based vegetable dips, roasted vegetables, fruit-based desserts, fresh fruits, and salads all make great choices, whether your special diet is heart-healthy, diabetes-friendly, or vegetarian.
The best way to help a host planning a holiday buffet is to bring a dish that you and everyone at the party can enjoy. “For example, vegans can always bring a quinoa dish," says Karla Hamal, RD, a registered dietitian and nutrition consultant in Livingston, N.J. "There are many gluten-free dessert items that are now available at bakeries and grocery stores. A fruit plate is always considerate of everyone’s diet, as well as a vegetable dish cooked in vegetable broth,” she says. “These are all safe for any diet restrictions as well as for people following a heart-healthy or diabetes diet.”
When it’s not appropriate to bring your own dish and you're unsure of the menu, go ahead and ask what’s being served. Acerra says that knowing this ahead of time allows you to plan accordingly. You don’t have to go into detail about your special diet; she suggests you just say something like this: "For health reasons, my doctor has advised me to avoid certain foods. Can you tell me what you’re planning to serve for your dinner party?"
If the menu has too many roadblocks for your diet — you’re a vegan and it’s loaded with numerous meats, cheeses, and eggs, for instance — then eating beforehand or packing some of your own snacks in your purse or a knapsack is a good option. At the party, fill your plate with healthy fruits and vegetables that can work in any diet plan, Hamal says.
Get the Green Light From Your Doctor
Acerra emphasizes that holiday eating is supposed to be fun, and stressing over the food can make you — and your fellow partygoers — miserable. “Check in with your doctor or dietitian for specific recommendations on how closely your diet must be followed and if an exception may be made for special circumstances, such as a holiday gathering,” she says. Although those with life-threatening allergies should eat beforehand or bring food with them, she says, many others can loosen their dietary restrictions for one meal with no long-term impact on their overall health.
Non-negotiables for people on a special diet are any doctor-prescribed health essentials, particularly medication. “It’s very important that people continue to take their medications as advised by their doctors and be aware of food and drug interactions that could potentially affect the medication,” Acerra says. If you have a medical condition, make sure at least one other guest knows about it, just in case you eat something that causes a reaction.
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