We all know this time of the year is filled with holiday parties and soirees..so to kick of the month of December I thought I’d share some tips for those of us looking to stay fit and trim while navigating the holiday appetizers. The holiday season ranks in extra, unnecessary calories through mindless snacking and miscellaneous extras. By simply cutting back and replacing these extras with healthy substitutes, you can enjoy your holiday splendor guilt free. With a little pre-planning and commitment to moderation, Christmas and New Years celebrations won’t sabotage your healthy lifestyle.
Make fitness a family adventure; take a walk after your hoilday meal or play a game of tag football in the yard with the kids. Give a helping hand around the kitchen, offer to help set the table and clean the dishes after dinner.
Don’t save up on calories by skipping the most important meal of the day; be sure to eat a protein-packed breakfast that will hold you over until it’s time to dive into the turkey. Try a poached egg with whole grain toast or a bowl of oatmeal with chopped nuts and cinnamon; this will ensure you are not starving when you arrive at the feast.
It’s easy to experiment and create healthier versions of your favorite comfort foods with less fat, sugar and calories. Here are a few of my holiday tips for how you can reduce your caloric intake and become aware of your food consumption. All it takes is a pantry makeover of your family’s favorite recipes to reduce the ‘bad’ fats and empty calories, replacing them with healthy and nutritious fats and fiber-filled foods.
- Use chicken broth in lieu of butter in mashed potatoes
- Cook stuffing outside the turkey to lower the fat content
- Sub nonfat Greek plain yogurt for cream in green bean casserole
- Ditch the sweet potato casserole and reach for a sweet potato (eat the skin too). These spuds are full of vitamins, fiber and flavor…drizzle with honey and top with Greek yogurt and dried cranberries.
- Skip the butter on veggies and steam them with a drizzle of freshly squeezed lemon juice, balsamic vinegar and a sprinkle of ground flax seeds.
- Replace processed cranberry sauce with fresh cranberries; create your own unique chutney or salsa.
- Opt for a turkey rub made from olive oil, thyme and sage instead of butter.
- Replace white breads and white bread stuffing with whole grain bread and hearty side dishes such as a wild rice pilaf tossed with asparagus, apples and Dijon mustard.
- Don’t swear off desserts, allow yourself a few bites and keep your portions in check. Choosing fruit is safe way to cure your sweet tooth instead of reaching for mom’s cheesecake.
- Substitute agave nectar or stevia for sugar.
- Opt for whole wheat flour over white.
Control Your Portions.
Be conscious about what you are putting into your mouth; sit back and take a sip of water or seltzer after a few bites to ensure you don’t overeat. Enjoy the decadent flavors; this is what the holidays are all about, it’s more than just food, it’s about gratitude, family and community. It takes 20 minutes for your brain to register that you are full, so savor your food, drink water in between bites and slow down. Give your mind a chance to catch up with your body and stop when you are full.
Overall, when the event day arrives, be sure to have a plan set; make smart choices, eat in moderation and keep moving. Most importantly, don’t forget that Christmas is about much more than Aunt Suzie’s mashed potatoes and Grandma’s sugar cookies. It’s about community, family and giving thanks, after all, these are the things that stay with us after the gingerbread leftovers have disappeared.