With the holiday season fast approaching (I know, it’s hard to believe that it’s already that time of year – again!), now is a good time to think about making it a healthy one. The holiday season is a time to celebrate with family and friends, and it can also be a time to celebrate your health!
The holidays also bring lots of opportunities for great tasting food. It’s also a time for lots of rich, high fat, high sugar foods. And don’t forget the overeating! According to several studies, a typical Thanksgiving dinner with “all the trimmings” can have between 3000 and 4000 calories! Yikes!
The good news is that it doesn’t have to! There are some simple things you can do to make you’re your holiday meal healthier. You might be surprised at just how easy it is to shave lots of calories, and the best news is that your family and guests won’t even notice!
In addition, by using a couple of simple tips, you can avoid overeating too. If you’re not cooking the holiday meal, you don’t have much control over the ingredients. You can still sample all the foods you love, while being smart about what and how much you eat. The secret is to focus on a healthy balance of food, activity, and fun. By implementing a few simple tips you can stay healthy through the holiday season.
Here are our top ten tips for having a healthy holiday season:
If you overeat at one meal don’t beat yourself up. This is so important! Instead, simply go light at the next meal. Remember that excess fat, sugar and calories over time result in poor health. Just make healthy choices most of the time.
Take the focus off food. Instead of baking cookies or making holiday candy, start new family traditions that don’t involve food. Try making wreaths and dough art decorations, play a board game as a family, or take a walk to look at holiday decorations in the neighborhood.
Don’t skip meals. It’s tempting to skip a meal when you know you’re going out to a party or family dinner, but that’s not a good approach. When you’re over-hungry, you tend to overeat. Instead, before leaving for a party, eat a light, healthy snack like raw vegetables or a piece of fruit to curb your appetite.
Plan time for physical activity. Exercise helps relieve holiday stress and work off the calories you consume. It doesn’t have to mean hours at the gym. Try to engage in some type of physical activity for at least 10 to 15 minutes each day. You can walk around the block, toss a football with your kids, or even play a lively game of charades – anything to get you up and moving around.
Survey the buffet before you start. Look at all the options before you get in the buffet line and decide what foods you most want. I do this whenever I’m at a lunch meeting or conference, not just at the holidays, and I often find myself leaving room on my plate for items near the end of the buffet.
Add veggies where you can. If you’re preparing the meal, add vegetables to the table. Include beans, peas or roasted squash. Add a fresh salad to your menu. Eliminate or at least minimize vegetable casseroles that drench veggies in heavy sauces.
Switch to low-fat dairy. Instead of high-fat sour cream in recipes, substitute low-fat Greek yogurt in your recipes. You can also use low-fat versions of milk and cream cheese. Your guests will never know.
Balance your plate. Especially at the holidays, we tend to load up our plate with heavy carbs like potatoes, stuffing and creamy casseroles. Nutrition experts suggest that your ideal dinner should consist of about 1/2 vegetables, 1/4 lean protein and 1/4 carbohydrates. Use your plate as a guide when dishing up your holiday meal. Fill about 1/2 of your plate with veggies first, then fill the remaining 1/2 with meat, potatoes and stuffing.
Eat slowly and stop when you feel full. Savor your favorite holiday foods while eating small portions. Sit down, get comfortable, and enjoy. By eating more slowly, you’ll be able to sense when you’re getting full in time to stop.
Be careful with alcohol. Alcoholic beverages pose a “one-two” punch. They are full of empty calories, especially holiday drinks like egg nog or spiced cider. They can also induce overeating by slowing down your stomach’s ability to feel full.
So, enjoy the holidays, plan time for activity, incorporate healthy recipes into your holiday meals, and don’t restrict yourself from enjoying your favorite holiday foods. In the long run, your mind and body will thank you.
Remember, healthy choices each day can transform families for generations! What choices will you make today?
Do You Wish Your Kid’s Ate Better? Check out our FREE eBook at www.HealthyFamilyFuture.com. Many of the strategies in this book can be used by both children and adults.
You may also want to read: We Need a Plan to Combat Obesity, A Calorie is Not Just a Calorie, Can You Pronounce the Ingredients in Your Food?