The month of November and Thanksgiving indulgence has passed but we still have the December gauntlet to traverse! The holiday season brings with it time with family and friends, parties and, of course, lots of delicious food. Unfortunately, what also arrives this time of year may be bad eating habits and unwanted weight gain. To avoid this, there are two basic strategies you could take: 1) you can modify the recipes you use to make them healthier, or 2) you could modify your eating habits and make better choices. We have put together some healthy tips aligned with both strategies and hope they help satisfy those holiday taste buds without having to sacrifice too many of the tasty indulgences we all so know and love this time of year!
Are you having friends and family over for a big holiday meal? Here are some ways to modify your recipes to lower the calories without sacrificing taste:
- Cook your stuffing separately from the meat. It will be lower in fat (and you can be sure to avoid any food contamination from undercooked meat juices!).
- Consider serving potatoes, yams and steamed vegetables plain, rather than in a heavy casserole or covered with cream sauces.
- Substitute evaporated skim milk or plain, low-fat yogurt for cream and sour cream.
- Use less sugar in baked goods; use pureed fruits for natural sweetness.
- Don’t drink your calories! Skipping eggnog and alcohol is an easy way to reduce your calorie intake.
Making changes to recipes works when you are the host but what happens when you are invited to a large holiday meal at your favorite aunt’s house (especially when that aunt happens to be the best cook in the family and never cuts calorie corners in her recipes!)? Here’s how to prepare yourself to make better choices and avoid overindulging:
- Practice mindful eating. Simply put, mindful eating is thinking about what you are putting in your mouth and listening to your body’s natural hunger cues. When you stop and think about whether you are hungry, you can make an informed decision whether you should be eating or not.
- Fill up on the good stuff. Fiber-rich foods, vegetables, and fruit can help fill you up and keep you feeling satisfied longer while eating fewer calories. And don’t forget to drink lots of water or unsweetened beverages!
RECIPE IDEA: Serve fresh vegetables with hummus or other light dips for a healthier appetizer or snack option.
- Get outside and take a walk. Everyone can benefit from a nice walk in the neighborhood! Even a short walk has been shown to help regulate blood sugar after a big meal. Get the kids outside with you too to promote healthy habits for the whole family.
- Don’t deprive yourself and don’t skip meals. Skipping meals can lead you to overindulge later. Enjoy your favorite foods, but in moderation. Using mindful eating habits allows you to indulge a little in every food you love…just take smaller portions, eat slowly and savor each bite!
Whether you choose to make your recipes healthier or you incorporate better eating and exercise habits this holiday season, don’t forget to enjoy yourself, enjoy your family and friends, and celebrate all the good things the holiday season brings! That's the "good stuff"!