The holiday season is upon us once again, and with that comes the plethora of delicious meals we look forward to sharing with friends and family. This is more often than not an excuse for each of us to “splurge” and eat as much as we want of whatever we want. If you want to partake in all the decadent holiday treats, but are not looking forward to packing on the associated pounds, you are in luck. Here are a few tips to help you minimize your unhealthy consumption while not sacrificing all the things you love about holiday meals. With a few minor changes, you can do away with all of those unnecessary calories and the lethargy that comes with them.
1. Sweet Potatoes
One of the easiest ways to change your diet during the holidays is to replace your use of regular potatoes with sweet potatoes. The latter are much higher in fiber and vitamins, and are not full of empty carbohydrates. If you are unwilling to make the switch entirely, try replacing the butter used while mashing regular potatoes with chicken broth and skim milk. This will bring down the sodium and fat levels significantly while still providing some great flavor.
2. Be Sure to Complete Your Meal
Many families neglect to make complete holiday meals – or simply, they fail to create a dinner that includes all of the essential food groups. It seems that, more often than not, the green vegetables are ignored, while starchy, carbohydrate-loaded foods are favored. So make a note to include either some green beans, broccoli or asparagus with all of those meats, potatoes, breads and pies.
3. Cranberry Sauce
If your holiday fare doesn’t include cranberries or cranberry sauce, then you are missing out. Not only is this traditional favorite delicious, it compliments any roast, ham or turkey. Also, cranberries are extremely high in Vitamin C and anti-oxidants. Make sure to include cranberries as part of your holiday meals, as they can definitely be helpful in fighting illness during the cold and flu season.
4. Snack Healthily and Eat Regular Sized Meals
Many families place emphasis on the big finale that is Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, often with a “binge now and diet later” mentality. You may also notice that the day of your big family feast, Mom and Grandma
might be telling you to not spoil your appetite. This may not be the best advice. The holidays are a good time to take advantage of the cold weather fruits that are finally available as snacks during the day, leading up to that big meal. It is encouraged that you eat healthy, regular meals leading up to the big feasts so as not to overeat. Overeating is a very common practice during the holidays, and if you eat at regular intervals, and eat healthily you can avoid over-eating and its sluggish after-effects.
5. Swap the Chocolates for Fruit Baskets
Traditionally, the holidays are the only time of year where the whole country collectively justifies a high-calorie, high-fat diet. Everyone is sharing pies, cakes and chocolates with their loved ones. Why not mix it up with a fruit basket every now and then to offset all those high calorie choices? Not only do these baskets present a beautiful gift of tasty goodies, you’ll be doing your family a favor by giving something good for them. It may be the one thing they don’t regret eating come January 1st.
6. Opt for Turkey
If your family traditionally prepares a roast or a ham for the holidays, why not try going with a turkey this year? It’s lower in fat, sodium and calories. Use a low-fat baste and remove the skin, and this high-protein treat can lay the foundation for what generally is a healthier meal. And there is a wealth of opportunities to use these leftovers for healthy meals and snacks in the days following.
7. Eat Healthy Snacks While Traveling
Most people are traveling a lot during the holidays, and this usually means that regular meals and healthy eating habits are neglected. People typically opt for the sweets and easily prepared/purchased meals. For
instance, if you are driving to a relative’s house, you may be more inclined to get fast-food while on the road, and if you are flying you may find yourself eating things you’d otherwise steer clear of on the airplane or at the airport. Take some time before traveling, to pack healthy snacks. Load up on the fruit and nuts, and since it is the holidays and you can’t avoid candy altogether, try and limit yourself to dark chocolate. Dark chocolate is full of antioxidants, and much lower in fat than milk chocolate.