Nutrition Column – Take Time for Yourself and Your Health this Holiday Season

It’s the time of year when our thoughts turn to getting together with family and friends to give thanks, share gifts and enjoy each other’s company.

Unfortunately, it’s often a stressful time, too, as we try to make each holiday occasion special and each gift memorable. When the result is less than perfect, we’re typically heartsick – sometimes to the point of making our guests feel it’s all their fault.

This year as you plan your holiday gatherings, put your expectations in perspective. As you make your social and entertaining plans, make sure you include time for yourself and your immediate family. As you put together your holiday and entertainment menus, be sure they’re not so complex that you don’t have time to enjoy yourself, your family and your guests. For example, consider if you really need to serve a six-course, sit-down meal when a light buffet would be much easier to create and just as enjoyable.

Here are three resolutions to keep in mind as you make your holiday plans.

I am going to take time for myself and my health.

Be kind to yourself. Make sure you reserve time to exercise and get enough sleep. An exhausted host or hostess isn’t good company. When planning your menus, consider simple foods that you know how to prepare. Consider what can be prepared ahead and frozen or held in another manner. Think about having a potluck party where everybody brings something.

If holiday guests are staying over, make sure you take some time for yourself. Nothing reduces stress more than a daily walk. Encourage your guests to do the same. Also, don’t be timid about serving leftovers or ordering out for pizza.

I am not going to overspend.

As you rummage through holiday recipes, keep your food budget in mind. How can you enjoy a dinner knowing a large portion of the month’s food budget is sitting on the table? If served attractively, recipes made with common household staples and an occasional special ingredient can be just as elegant as those that call for many expensive ingredients.

I am going to serve simple, healthful food.

A conflict of interest often occurs when entertaining. We invite our friends into our homes as a way of expressing our friendship. We want to make sure they enjoy themselves and are well fed. Does this mean we need to serve elaborate, calorie-laden foods? Not. A better statement of love and friendship is to serve a variety of simple foods that also are good for one’s health.

The beauty of these three resolutions is that they complement each other. Simple, nutritious foods usually take less time to prepare and are less damaging to the budget and the waistline than fancy gourmet-type foods.

This holiday season, resolve to take time for yourself and your health!

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by Pat Kendall, Ph.D., R.D., Food Science and Human Nutrition Specialist, Colorado State University, Cooperative Extension