The Best Healthy Foods to Eat This Holiday Season
“My eyes were bigger than my stomach.”
Have you ever said that after bingeing at a party or family feast? Overeating at social gatherings is common, especially during the holidays. When delicious foods are spread out in front of you, it’s easy to get swept up in the moment and lose control over your well-established health habits.
But before you scoop up a second helping of mashed potatoes or attack the dessert table, make a nutritional game plan to safeguard your health.
Healthy Holiday Foods
Many people experience weight gain during the holidays. Portion sizes certainly contribute to waistline struggles. Eating foods saturated with fat and sugar can also pack on the pounds.
On the flipside, eating healthy foods can help you have more energy, a better mood, and more mental sharpness. When sitting down to a holiday meal, select foods that are high in protein, fiber and healthy fats, such as:
- Asparagus– An incredible source of folate, asparagus is beneficial for your brain. People with lower levels of folate are more likely to experience episodes of low mood.
- Avocado– This underrated fruit provides healthy fats and loads of potassium to help maintain healthy blood pressure. Avocados also provide lutein and zeaxanthin, vitamin-like nutrients crucial for vision.
- Blueberries– The antioxidants in blueberries help protect the brain against oxidative stress (including from toxic pollutants) and have shown promise for memory in clinical trials.
- Edamame– Replace finger foods like M&Ms with shelled edamame, which is roughly the same size as those candies. Edamame is high in protein and fiber and is the perfect low-calorie snack for when you get the munchies.
- Oranges– Your body can’t naturally make vitamin C, but it’s an essential nutrient for healthy brain cells and for making brain neurotransmitters. Oranges are also rich in flavonoids, which can help improve memory and cognition.
- Salmon– Naturally high in omega-3 fatty acids, wild-caught salmon helps keep your brain fit. Omega-3 EPA and DHA are highly concentrated in the brain and are essential for vision and cardiovascular health.
- Spinach – This nutrient-dense vegetable is rich in magnesium, potassium, folate, and vitamins A and K. Other leafy greens like kale and collard greens provide generous amounts of vitamins A and C.
- Walnuts– Consume them in whole form, with the skin on, for maximum benefit. These little nuts supply lots of magnesium, potassium, and vitamin E, along with powerful antioxidant flavonoids. In clinical trials walnuts have improved mood and mental focus.
When presented with unhealthy foods this holiday season, use these 5 tips for maintaining a healthy diet:
5 Tips for Staying Healthy Through the Holidays
1. Make a Plan
As Benjamin Franklin once said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” Be mindful of what holiday pitfalls you’re likely to face and make a plan for how to address them. It can be as simple as writing out your goals or biggest challenges and putting them where you can see them. Make sure to read them regularly and you’ll be surprised at how much easier it is to make healthy choices during the holidays.
2. Fill Up First
Rich, sweet and salty foods are hard to resist, especially when you’re hungry. Before attending a family gathering or holiday party where you know unhealthy foods will be served, eat a low carb and high protein meal first. That way, you won’t feel hungry and will be less likely to eat unhealthy foods.
3. Eat from the Rainbow
Colorful fruits and vegetables, such as blueberries, spinach, kale, collard greens, bell peppers, and squash, have tremendous health benefits. They provide an enormous array of vitamins, minerals, flavonoid antioxidants, anti-free radical carotenoids, and thousands of other substances that promote good health. Plant foods also can help balance healthy inflammatory response, which lowers your exposure to brain, heart, blood pressure, blood sugar, joint, or gastrointestinal problems.
4. Pack a Snack
To avoid a snack attack, bring along healthy snacks when food options are limited. Emergency rations can be a lifesaver in the case of cravings brought on by low blood sugar. Examples of healthy snacks are dried fruits without sugar added (raisins, cranberries, and cherries), vegetables (baby carrots, celery, and snap peas), and nuts without added salt (almonds and walnuts).
5. Curb Your Cravings
BrainMD’s Craving Control contains six clinically studied ingredients that work together to help calm cravings, assist with healthy blood sugar balance, and promote a positive mood. It can help diminish the frequency and intensity of your cravings and help you achieve better control over your behavior.
Implementing these 5 tips can help prevent setbacks in your diet and ensure that you won’t be tempted to engage in binge eating this holiday season.
For more information about Craving Control or our full catalog of brain healthy supplements, visit the online store at BrainMD.
Keith is grateful to have the opportunity to write about supplements since many of them have made a dramatic difference in his life. He is often heard around the office saying, “We have supplements for that.”