(Editor’s note: On the occasion of Thanksgiving, we are reprinting this article from The Nutrition Source of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. )
During the holidays, “more” is a popular motto. Whether that means spending more money on gifts or eating more food more often, the holidays typically encourage excess – often resulting in an increase in waste and waist. But it doesn’t have to be this way. There are simple steps you can take to indulge yourself, without overindulging.
6 tips for reducing holiday waste and waist
1. Start with a salad
Begin your meal with a simple salad, and you can increase your veggie intake for the day as well as keep your appetite in check. By choosing to fill up on nutritious foods first, you
may be less inclined to overeat later. This means eating fewer empty calories and reducing food waste, making it a win-win for both your health and the environment.
2. Step it up
You’ve heard it before – park further away so that you can squeeze in some extra steps. Why not start this habit during the holidays, and skip out on the competition for close parking spots? Better yet, if you can walk to the store instead of driving, that doesn’t just up your step count, it also saves on gas and reduces your carbon footprint.
3. Wow with water
Make your own infused water to serve guests during the holidays – try adding orange, cucumber or mint for a refreshing burst of flavor. Skip buying beverages in plastic bottles or cans, which are often sugar-laden drinks anyway, and offer your guests a refreshing “homemade” beverage instead!
4. Beware the buffet
Don’t let the multitude of holiday meal food choices trick you into over-serving yourself – that can lead to either eating when you’re no longer hungry or throwing food away. Instead, learn to start small with portions and don’t feel that you have to try everything – you may want to focus on your top 3-4 favorite dishes. Then, if you’re still hungry after finishing your plate, take time to pause and digest before going back for seconds.
5. Showcase simplicity
Move away from the “more” mentality by keeping holiday meals simple. Focus on
cooking fewer dishes, and fill them with nutritious ingredients that help people feel nourished and satisfied – not stuffed – after eating. Another bonus? Upping the quality & reducing the number of dishes could mean less energy spent cooking, and you also save time and effort, as well as water, when doing the dishes.
6. Redefine dessert
We’ve all come to think of dessert as cakes, cookies, pies and other baked goods – especially during the holidays. Instead, consider omitting the oven and offering foods that are both better for you, and that require much less energy to prepare. One idea? A simple spread of fruit arranged in a festive bowl or platter. For more variety, consider some artfully arranged fruit, nuts and dark chocolate, with a small glass of liquor as an optional add-on.