The holidays are a time to celebrate with family and friends. Unfortunately, for many it also becomes a time for over-eating and over-celebrating and the resulting extra few pounds. But the holidays don’t have to mean weight gain. Focus on a healthy balance of food, activity, and fun. By implementing a few simple tips, you can stay healthy through the holiday season and beyond.
Ten Tips for Healthy Holiday Eating:
- Be realistic. Don’t try to lose pounds during the holidays, instead try to maintain your current weight.
- Plan time for exercise. Moderate daily exercise can not only partially offset increased holiday eating and prevent weight gain, but also help relieve holiday stress.
- Don’t skip meals. Before leaving for a party, eat a light snack or a piece of fruit to curb your appetite. You will be less tempted to over-indulge.
- Survey party buffets before filling your plate. Choose your favorite foods and skip your least favorite. Include vegetables and fruits to keep your plate balanced.
- Eat until you are satisfied, not stuffed. Savor your favorite holiday treats while eating small portions. Make the holidays about enjoying the company of family and friends and not an excuse to over-indulge in unhealthy food, drinks, or activities.
- Be careful with beverages. Alcohol can lessen inhibitions and induce overeating and many non-alcoholic beverages can be full of calories and sugar.
- Don’t stress about eating. If you overeat at one meal go light on the next. It takes 500 calories per day (or 3,500 calories per week) above your normal/maintenance consumption to gain one pound. It is impossible to gain weight from one piece of pie!
- Take the focus off food. Turn candy and cookie making time into non-edible projects like making wreaths, tree decorations, or holiday cards. Plan group activities with family and friends that aren’t all about food. Try serving a holiday meal to the community, playing games, or going on a walking tour of decorated homes.
- Bring your own healthy dish to a holiday gathering. That way you’ll always have something healthy to eat.
- Practice healthy holiday cooking. Preparing favorite dishes lower in fat and calories will help promote healthy holiday eating.
Incorporate some of these simple-cooking tips in traditional holiday recipes to make them healthier:
Gravy — Refrigerate the gravy to harden fat. Skim the fat off. This will save a whopping 56 gm of fat per cup.
Dressing — Use a little less bread and add more onions, garlic, celery, and vegetables. Add fruits such as cranberries or apples. Moisten or flavor with low fat low sodium chicken or vegetable broth and applesauce.
Turkey – Enjoy delicious, roasted turkey breast without the skin and save 11 grams of saturated fat per 3 oz. serving.
Green Bean Casserole — Cook fresh green beans with chucks of potatoes instead of cream soup. Top with almonds instead of fried onion rings. Or even better – Green Beans Almondine.
Mashed Potato — Use skim milk or low-sodium chicken broth instead of whole milk and butter.
Quick Holiday Nog — Four bananas, 1-1/2 cups skim milk or almond milk, 1-1/2 cups plain nonfat yogurt, 1/4 teaspoon rum extract, and ground nutmeg. Blend all ingredients except nutmeg. Puree until smooth. Top with nutmeg.
Desserts — Make a crustless pumpkin pie. Substitute two egg whites for each whole egg in baked recipes. Replace heavy cream with evaporated skim milk in cheesecakes and cream pies. Top cakes with fresh fruit, fruit sauce, or a sprinkle of powdered sugar instead of fattening frosting.
With a little planning and preparation, you can still enjoy the festivities of the holiday season and not send you diet into a tailspin…and in the long run, your mind and body will thank you for it.
Have a Happy & Healthy Holiday!
Planning to eat healthy is not just for the holidays or a short-term “diet” but a lifestyle. If you’re struggling with unhealthy eating habits, what to eat, or not sure how to incorporate nutritious foods into your daily routine, I can help. Check out my Happy Fit & Healthy Program