Healthy Holiday Eating Tips

As the holidays approach, you might start to think longingly of the roast turkey, pumpkin pie, and other delicious seasonal dishes. If you are also concerned about how all that decadent food is going to affect your waistline, keep some of these holiday eating suggestions in mind:

First, approach the holidays with some realistic goals. For most people, it probably is not realistic to plan on losing weight during the holidays, so avoid setting yourself up to fail. Instead, make a goal to maintain your current weight.

When you are cooking at home for yourself and your family, substitute some common ingredients for healthier options. Here are a few substitutions that are easy to make:

  • Use low fat or skim milk instead of whole or heavy cream.
  • When baking with flour, replace half of the total amount with whole wheat flour.
  • When cooking, use olive oil instead of butter.
  • Instead of frying vegetables, consider steaming or baking them.
  • Use 100% fruit juice, rather than sugar, to sweeten drinks.

When you are planning to attend a holiday party where you know there will be a lot of high calorie or sugary dishes, keep these suggestions in mind:

  • Eat a small, healthy snack that is high in fiber before the party. Raw vegetables, fruit, or nuts are all good choices that will you help feel fuller, so you’ll be less tempted to overindulge later.
  • If you are contributing to a potluck meal, make sure to bring something healthy so that you have at least one healthy dish to sample.
  • When you arrive, take time to look over all of the food options before making your selections. This will allow you to decide what you really want. Skip some of the less healthy dishes you are not as excited about, but be sure to include some fruits and vegetables.
  • Once you have filled up your plate and are ready to dig in to all that holiday yumminess, start with the foods that are the healthiest, such as salads and soups. That way you will not be so hungry when you get to the less healthy options.
  • When it is time to choose your dessert, be careful not to overindulge. Instead of taking an entire serving of one or more of your favorite treats, take very small portions of several or share with a friend.
    Finally, as you are planning your holiday fun, be sure to schedule in a little exercise. Plan to take a 15 minute walk each day or volunteer to take over the snow shoveling. Help your family stay active as well by inviting them to go sledding or play a sport like basketball or racquetball at a local indoor court.

As much as we love and look forward to the holidays, it is normal to worry about keeping healthy during a stereotypically unhealthy time of year. However, with a little forethought and planning, you can enjoy all of your favorite holiday traditions without gaining those unwanted pounds.

Resources
• http://www.cpmc.org/about/e-health/11-05 healthy-holidays.html
• http://www.heart.org/idc/groups/heart-public/@wcm/@fc/documents/downloadable/ucm_455757.pdf

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