We’re in full swing of holiday seasons. From Thanksgiving through the start of the New Year, there are many opportunities for family gatherings. Often, these gatherings are held over shared meals. Whether you are in the kitchen cooking and baking or enjoying food prepared by others, holiday eating can be a stressor of its own. The most common concern in regard to holiday consumption is related to overeating, especially of sweets and high caloric foods. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has provided some general tips for eating in moderation over the holiday season. For individuals with chronic health conditions and their caregivers, holiday eating and food preparation may be more stressful. But it doesn’t have to be! Check out some tips for planning, cooking, and hosting holiday guests.
- Plan your meal – what will you serve and for how many people?
- Do any of your guests have health concerns that relate to foods that can or cannot be eaten (ie food allergies, gluten sensitivities, or chronic conditions that limit a full diet)? Ask friends and family in advance and try to be considerate when planning your meal, or go potluck style and ask for everyone to bring a favorite dish that works with their diet.
- Create a shopping list – not just the types of foods, but the amounts too
- Prepare your cooking space and have good utensils/equipment for food preparation and cooking
- Prep food before the big day by baking ahead, chopping vegetables in advance, and freezing prepared casseroles so they are ready to bake
- Give yourself plenty of time, especially if mobility issues are a concern
- Ask for help when cooking – it can often be more fun to cook or bake with a few people
- Set family members or guests to work helping set the table or hang decorations – people often offer to help/don’t want to just stand around while you work. Graciously accept the offers!
- Take the time to enjoy gatherings with your family and friends – if your chronic health conditions limit your ability to provide a meal, order catering, buy pre-made foods, host a potluck, go out to eat at a restaurant, or attend a gathering at someone else’s home
No matter how you choose to continue celebrating the holidays into 2014, make them a time of love and thankfulness for your family and friends.