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10 Holiday Eating Tips for Seniors

Most people eat a bit too much over the holidays. While enjoying food is a big part of the holidays, it’s important for seniors to make a few key decisions about what they eat and how much they eat to ensure they stay healthy and are in top shape to enjoy the festivities.

For instance, many adults have more energy and enjoy holiday events more when they closely monitor what they eat to fit with recommendations from their medications, or limit calories to get the needed nutrition, but not feel too full.  This holiday eating guide offers some tips to help you enjoy holiday food in smart, healthy ways.

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1. Keep to Regular Meal Schedules

It can be easy to eat too many times during the day one day and too few the next. It’s best to stick with the meal schedule you have now. If you are not used to eating meals during the late evening, it’s best not to eat late meals during the holidays. Doing so can make it harder for your body to adjust. While the types of foods may change a bit during the holidays, keeping to a schedule will help limit eating too much.

2. Build in Exercise

You probably won’t lose weight during the holidays. That’s okay. Instead, follow weight management tips like building exercise into your schedule. Instead of sitting down with visiting family, go for a walk with them around the exterior of the building. You can participate in some of the fitness and health programs in your community. The goal is to burn a few more calories during the day so you can treat yourself to a few extra calories at mealtime. That way, you don’t feel like you are missing out.

3. Eat Fruits and Veggies Before Heading Out

Before you plan to head out for a lavish dinner to celebrate the holidays, cut up some fresh fruit or vegetables and eat them. When you do this, you significantly reduce the amount of “bad” holiday food you’ll consume later because you’ll be full of healthy food. Even if you do eat a little too much holiday food that’s a little less healthy, you will have gotten the nutrients you needed first. If you can’t fit in a healthy snack before a meal, be sure to eat vegetables and fruit first during the meal.

4. Eat Slower Than Normal

Speeding through a meal can create digestive problems, especially if you are eating richer foods. So slow down. Eat a plate of food over a period of 20 minutes instead of within just a few minutes. You’ll notice the difference right away in the way you feel.

By eating at a slower rate you also give your stomach more time to let your brain know that you are full and to stop eating. This can help limit the amount of food you take in during those meals. For many people, eating slower can actually be a good way to reduce calorie intake without feeling like they were deprived during the meal.

5. Drink Water

Another important way to reduce some of the calories you are taking in is to drink water. During the holidays, it’s easy to consume many calories through special drinks, both hot and cold. Skipping the sugar-filled drinks and choosing water instead is a simple way to avoid those calories. In addition to reducing calories, water is healthy. When you drink water with your meal, you’re hydrating cells and so you feel better and have more energy.

6. Grab a Smaller Plate

Having a full plate is a psychological need for many people so if you’re worried about eating too much, use a smaller plate. You will feel satisfied emotionally when you have a full plate, but the smaller plate size will help limit the amount of food you eat in a single sitting.

7. Watch the Amount of Salt You Take In

Most of the time, when you eat the same types and amounts of food day in and day out, your body can manage the salt intake. During the holidays, you’ll find that new foods can increase the amount of sodium you are consuming. If you are heading out for dinner with friends, take a look at the menu online. Many locations offer nutritional facts on their website, and you may be shocked by just how much more sodium is in a serving than what you prepare at home. A single instance of too much salt like this can create risks associated with heart health.

8. Make an Effort to Leave Room for Sweets…

You don’t want to miss out on your favorite desserts during this time of the year, so plan for them. Leave room for sweets by eating less during the meal. You may want to skip the appetizers, for example, so that you have room for dessert later. Another trick is to skip the bread that comes with your meal. It is one of the more filling components of many dishes. By skipping it, you may not have to feel as guilty about enjoying the sweet pastry or that fantastic cake you’ve been waiting for all year long.

9. …But Not Too Many Sweets

Friends drop by with a plate of cookies. Your daughter brings over a pie. Sweets add up fast during the holidays. You can make those sweet treats last longer and avoid overeating if you limit how much you consume. Freeze them. Portion them out. The goal isn’t to eat them all before they go bad, but to savor them.

10. Don’t Focus on Food This Holiday

The spirit of the season is something that is about people and sharing time and memories together. You’ll see your family more often. You’ll be able to engage in activities that only happen at this time of the year. Make those aspects of the holidays the focus of your days. When you take at least some of the focus off food, you’ll feel less pressure and be less compelled to overeat or make yourself ill.

Healthy Holiday Eating Does Not Have to Be Hard

At The Villages of Windcrest, holidays are important to everyone. From providing intimate meals to spending time reminiscing, we aim to ensure each of our residents enjoys their favorite traditions of the season. Contact us to learn more about holiday celebrations in this supportive living comm