Honey baked ham, gravy, pumpkin pie and cookies are just a few reasons why we look forward to the holidays. What we don’t look forward to is getting on the scale after the season is over. It’s hard to not overindulge, but there are ways you can stay both full and healthy without packing on the pounds. Here are 10 quick tips to help keep your health on the right track this season:
Be realistic. Don’t try to lose pounds during the holidays, just try to maintain your current weight. Drink lots of water and remember you’ve eaten well the past 11 months so December should not ruin nearly a year of hard work.
Plan time for exercise. Exercise helps relieve holiday stress and prevents weight gain. A daily exercise routine can help offset increased holiday eating. The best way to hold yourself accountable to exercise is by grabbing a friend! Plan 30 minute daily walks, go to the gym or try a fun workout class like barre or spin.
Don’t skip meals. Before leaving for a party, eat a light snack like raw vegetables or a piece of fruit to curb your appetite. You will be less tempted to overindulge. Eating a handful of nuts will keep your belly feeling somewhat full so you won’t overeat when it’s time for dinner due to its protein.
Check out the party buffets before filling your plate. Choose only your favorite foods and skip the rest because you don’t need them. Also, include vegetables and fruits to keep your meal balanced. Try to eat things with vitamins and proteins since they’ll keep you feeling full longer. The carbs will bloat you and you’ll feel hungry again in an hour.
Eat until you are satisfied, but not stuffed. Savor your favorite holiday treats while eating smaller portions. Sit down, get comfortable, and enjoy.
Be careful with drinks. Alcohol can compromise your willpower and induce overindulging. Additionally, be aware that non-alcoholic beverages can also be full of calories and sugar.
If you overeat at one meal, go light on the next one. It takes 500 calories per day (or 3,500 calories per week) above your normal consumption to gain one pound. But remember that it is impossible to gain weight from a single piece of pie, so you can relax and enjoy a slice.
Take the emphasis off food. Turn candy and cookie making time into non-edible projects like making wreaths or decorate a gingerbread house. Plan group activities with family and friends that are not centered around food. Try serving a holiday meal to the community, playing games, or take your family on a walk one evening to see the Christmas lights and decorations on your block.
Bring your own healthy dish to a holiday gathering. That’s an easy way to have one super food on your plate. At least you’ll know every ingredient that is in it!
Practice healthy holiday cooking. Preparing favorite dishes which are lower in fat and calories will help encourage healthy holiday eating. Integrate some of these simple-cooking tips in traditional holiday recipes to make them healthier:
- Stuffing- Use a little less bread and add more onions, garlic, celery, and vegetables. I like to add green apples to mine. 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 chunks of potatoes instead of cream soup. Top with crushed almonds instead of using the traditional fried onion rings.
- Mashed Potatoes- Use skim milk and fresh garlic. You can add a little bit of chopped onions and parsley for a little more flavor
- Eggnog- Four bananas, 1-1/2 cups skim milk or soymilk or even 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.
- Desserts- Make all your pies crust less. 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.
Enjoying the holidays can be easy and fun with a little willpower. Try these helpful tips for the next few months and I am sure you will feel better about yourself. Keep things light and remember the little steps help you make the big ones when it comes to eating healthy. Have a happy holiday season and enjoy!The information provided is for general interest only and should not be misconstrued as a diagnosis, prognosis or treatment recommendation. This information does not in any way constitute the practice of medicine, or any other health care profession. Readers are directed to consult their health care provider regarding their specific health situation. Marque Medical is not liable for any action taken by a reader based upon this information.