Resilience and Fun with Food

Lt. Cmdr. Amit Sood, the OPNAV N17 Nutrition Programs Manager, is a Registered Dietitian and a Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics. He has nearly 10 years of experience in counseling thousands of service members and their families on nutrition and health-related issues, having delivered close to 600 nutrition-related lectures to more than 20 commands and institutions across the DoD. With a passion for promoting nutritional awareness to enhance health and quality of life for individuals and populations, Lt. Cmdr. Sood hopes to offer simple and practical ways to maintain healthy eating practices 365 days a year. He is a firm believer in the phrase “Food is Medicine,” and that every individual should embrace this idea to help them think about food as a therapeutic agent, thus leading to food choices that are beneficial rather than detrimental to overall health. note

December… a month filled with family and friends, deadlines, gift-giving and the anticipation of the New Year…. and a lot of delicious food!

The key to enjoying the flavors of the holidays without the guilt is through conscious planning. Exercise controllability, one of the Five Principles of Resilience, and take the reins when you can, while still recognizing old and creating new traditions. Here are a few ideas to enhance your controllability:

  • Decide on a theme and invite your family and friends to bring healthy variations of traditional indulgences.  An example would be a candy cane-themed event. Someone tasked with dessert could make brownies using pureed pumpkin in place of eggs and oil, and sprinkling a crushed candy cane on top.
  • Engage children (at their skill level) to reduce the stress of preparing entire meals. Examples include:
    • Engage a 5 or 6 year old with some easy tasks, like washing vegetables, pressing the cookie cutter or mixing baking ingredients in a large bowl.
    • Older children can manage more complicated tasks, such as cutting foods with a table knife, stirring something on the stove top, using the microwave or toaster oven or following a recipe to make their own dish!
    • Eating with others, as opposed to eating alone, helps to avoid overeating.  One great way to take delight in food is to invite family and friends to bring a new main dish, side dish or dessert, and have a taste-test contest with prizes for each category.  This will help you savor a little bit of everything in moderation and prevent overeating.

The holidays are meant to be enjoyed, and involving family and friends builds cheer and resilience. Doing so minimizes and prevents stress that comes from having to plan or prepare everything yourself and it reinforces relationships.  Using these simple strategies will reduce stress eating, so your New Year’s resolution does not include a weight loss goal.

Visit Navy Nutrition Resources for links to more tips and ideas on healthy eating strategies!

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