Simple techniques can help you eat well during the holidays

Published 9:05 am Monday, October 22, 2012

While lack of exercise can be an issue for many Midwesterners during winter, bad eating habits can follow closely behind. On holidays, those bad habits take the lead.

Amy Pleimling, a registered dietitian at Hy-Vee in Albert Lea, reminds people to keep their focus. More than any other tip, she frequently reiterates “nutrition density.” That means eating foods with good nutrient and vitamin profiles, often with high fiber. Eating at the right time is also key.

“I always tell people to focus on more super foods, more nutrient dense foods, so they can feel more satisfied,” Pleimling said. “So they aren’t becoming more susceptible to those cravings.”

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People preach it all the time, but it’s true. Eating a wholesome breakfast, one with nutrition density, is a good way to stay healthy and to maintain proper weight. An example of a good breakfast, Pleimling said, is oatmeal, half a banana and a hard-boiled egg. There is protein, a fruit and a grain. The combination is also filling. Pleimling said people who eat a filling, nutritious breakfast are less likely to overeat during the day, as they will have more energy. Pleimling is a big supporter of breakfast because she has seen the research and seen the personal effects of following such a routine.

Small snacks throughout the day can also keep the metabolism going, instead of bogging a person down. Low-calorie foods with nutrition density, almost all produce, Pleimling added, will help people maintain positive eating habits throughout the day.

“Carrot sticks and celery sticks, a lot of salads, that can fill you up, and it can also give your mouth something to do,” Pleimling said.

On the other end, people often get stuck in bad habits when they eat large meals only once or twice per day.

During the holidays, it can be tough to stay away from the sweets, but Pleimling said eating those small snacks throughout the day may be all it takes to resist that cake or tray of cookies at the end of the day. She also urges eating colors. Colorful foods, like squash, sweet potatoes and types of beans have great nutrition density.

Like exercise, work and many other things in life, eating right just takes a little planning.