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Healthy Holiday Eating from Chef Bill Nolan

How to Keep Up Healthy Eating during the Holidays

Happy Holidays! If you’re like me, those words can strike fear when it comes to your diet. Most people will agree that we tend to be inundated with all sorts of holiday treats that, while delicious, don’t exactly fall into the category of health food. Excess sugar, carbs, alcohol—fun, right? Fun indeed, but for those of us who deal with peripheral neuropathy, this holiday indulgence can wreak havoc with our symptoms. The last thing I want to be is a downer during the holidays, so let’s see if we can try to have some fun while watching what we eat at the same time. (Check out how diet and nutrition plays a part for patients with peripheral neuropathy on the Foundation for Peripheral Neuropathy website.)

What’s in your glass matters

Along with the foods that we eat we also want to watch the beverages we drink. As I mentioned in my first blog post, alcohol should be avoided, or at the very least minimized. Aside from the obvious precautions you need to take with the medications you are on and possible interactions, alcohol on its own can worsen your symptoms. I found out myself when I noticed that my leg and foot pain increased if I had a beer or a glass of wine. So, what can you do? If you’re worried about social situations, i.e., the office Christmas party or family gathering, order club soda with lime. There are some decent alcohol-free beers out there now as well. Drinking purple or red grape juice gives you the benefit of resveratrol, the same phytonutrient that is in red wine (but without the alcohol). In the end, if you feel the need to imbibe, choose the drink with the least amount of alcohol in it.

Navigating the buffet table

As you navigate the holidays, try and remember the following:

  • For appetizers, a vegetable tray is a nice option. Remember to eat your colors! The wider the variety of colorful vegetables, the better. Hummus is a nice option too.
  • For proteins, salmon is a great choice. Avoid rich sauces or take just a small amount rather than bathe your entrée in it.
  • We all think of turkey for Thanksgiving, but turkey is a great option for Christmas too. The white meat is lean and packed with protein.
  • Continue to drink lots of water. If you happen to live in a cold climate, it’s easy to forget to stay hydrated when it’s cold.
  • Make vegetable dishes the focus of your holiday meal, serving a meat protein as just one more dish.
  • Keep portion sizes small. It’s sometimes hard to do, but sample dishes rather than go for large portions.

Some additional thoughts…

I’d like to share some additional thoughts as we go through the holidays and beyond. I’ll be writing more about this in coming posts, but I feel it’s important to set the stage for a great foundation for your future food plans. Food and the brain are connected in so many ways. We have preconceived notions of foods, biases, likes and dislikes – whether they are substantiated or not! It’s extremely important to keep an open mind when changing your way of eating. In my first post I mentioned the word DIET and how it had negative connotations. Don’t think of your new approach to food as a diet. Think of it as something new to explore, where you will cook and taste things that are satisfying AND good for you. My goal is to introduce you to these foods so that you can improve your health and find relief from your symptoms.

Try it, you’ll like it…Brussel Sprouts

Now, for my featured recipe. You either love them or hate them…. Brussels sprouts! This recipe falls into the “Conversion file,” meaning I’ve converted Brussels sprouts haters to lovers with it.

Shredded Brussel Sprouts

Happy Cooking and Happy Holidays!

For more information on healthy eating, check out the Peripheral Neuropathy Nutrition section on the Foundation for Peripheral Neuropathy website.

More about Bill

Bill Nolan, a professionally trained chef and current owner of Nolan Hospitality, a food-focused company based in Darien, Illinois, has over 20 years of experience in the restaurant and education industries. Passionate about food and health, Bill believes in the diet-lifestyle-health connection and loves to share his knowledge with others through writing, classes, and presentations.

Bill will be offering us tips and recipes on a regular basis. Keep checking in for more ideas!

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