This holiday season doesn’t have to be disastrous to your diet. You and your family can eat healthily and enjoy your favorites too! Here are some tips to help you plan and balance during the holidays, without sacrificing.
Eat before you eat. Don’t arrive hungry! It may seem like a good idea to fast before a big meal to “save room” or “calorie bank”, but you are actually more likely to overindulge if you show up starved. Plan ahead by eating a good breakfast that morning, like festive holiday eggs scrambled with red peppers and greens, or a colorful smoothie bowl that kids can decorate with fresh fruit, pumpkin seeds, and chia seeds. Just before arriving, prepare a healthy snack with fiber, protein and fat, like an apple with nut butter or rice crackers with hummus. If you’re hosting a Hanukah, Christmas, or other holiday parties, carve out time to eat sensibly in between preparations.
Save room for the main event. Don’t blow all of your calories on hors d’oeuvres before the meal even starts! Mindlessly grazing on items like cheese, creamy dips, chips and other appetizers can rack up the fat and calories, and distract from the foods you actually look forward to all year. Instead, munch on crudité and a hummus or yogurt-based dip. Pass on the cocktails and sugary drinks, which are loaded with hidden calories, and instead sip on some sparkling water or a glass of wine. Stick to pre-portioned apps, rather than items you can constantly pick at like chips and dips. Having a snack before you arrive is also helpful.
Portion your plate. Plate your meal before you eat using MyPlate principles. Aim to fill ½ of your plate with non-starchy vegetables, like broccoli, cauliflower, roasted brussels sprouts and kale or a broth based vegetable soup, ¼ with lean protein, like turkey or ham, and ¼ with carbohydrates, like yams, stuffing and latkes. You can have a small taste of everything or a full portion of your favorites, so long as you follow this method. Don’t forget – the more colorful the foods, the better! Slowing down and taking sips of water between bites are also good ways to keep you from overindulging.
Bring your Tupperware. Don’t stuff yourself like a holiday turkey! Instead, limit yourself to just one plate at dinner, and take the extra portion(s) you would have eaten home with you. You will enjoy the holiday more if you’re not overly full, and you can keep the holiday fun going with leftovers for days afterward.
Treat yourself. A healthy holiday doesn’t have to mean denying your family dessert. You just need to plan ahead in order to achieve balance with holiday eating. Let your kids choose one slice of pie, or cut a tiny sliver of each. Opt for pumpkin pie or fresh fruit to keep it on the lower calorie side. When you indulge in dessert, do so mindfully. Chew slowly and savor the sweetness – it will make that small slice seem like so much more. Sip on herbal tea or coffee to distract you from the temptation of going back for more.
Walk it off. The worst thing you can do after a big meal is to continue being sedentary. Instead, start a new tradition by gathering your family and friends together to take a post-meal walk. It’ll be a great way to keep the conversation going and get some fresh air while doing the body good. If you’re staying indoors, try an active game of charades, or put on some music and play freeze-dance or musical chairs with the kids. Taking some time to work out earlier in the day or in the days leading up to it is also a great idea. Making sure to get in proper exercise and sleep can also help you stave off sugar cravings.
Make healthy substitutions for traditional recipes. Be a role model and show your family and friends that nutritious food can be delicious, too. Check out these healthy recipe make-overs for the holidays on Melissa’s Healthy Living.