You don’t need to deprive yourself, eat only boring foods, or take your treats with a side order of guilt. Healthy holiday eating is a battle on two fronts, with indulgent food options at home and at parties. From sugar cookies and eggnog to buffets and multi-course meals. No matter if they are sit-down family dinners or buffet-style office parties, social gatherings during the holiday season are full of indulgent foods that challenge healthy eating habits. Instead, by practicing a bit of defensive eating and cooking, you can come through the holidays.
Here are some tips to help you enjoy a healthy and happy holiday season this year!!
Don’t eat everything at feasts and parties. Be choosy, and spend calories judiciously on the foods you love.
Take 10 before taking seconds
It takes a few minutes for your stomach’s “I’m getting full” signal to get to your brain. After finishing your first helping, take a 10-minute break. Make conversation. Drink some water. Then recheck your appetite. You might realise you are full, or want only a small portion of seconds.
Distance helps the heart stay healthy
At a party, don’t stand next to the food table. That makes it harder to mindlessly reach for food as you talk. If you know you are prone to recreational eating, pop a mint or a stick of gum so you won’t keep reaching for the chips.
Don’t go out with an empty tank
Before setting out for a party, eat something so you don’t arrive famished. Excellent pre-party snacks combine complex carbohydrates with protein and unsaturated fat, like apple slices with peanut butter or a slice of turkey and cheese on whole-wheat pita bread.
Drink to your health
A glass of eggnog can set you back 500 calories; wine, beer, and mixed drinks range from 150 to 225 calories. If you drink alcohol, have a glass of water or juice-flavored seltzer in between drinks.
Avoid alcohol on an empty stomach
Alcohol increases your appetite and diminishes your ability to control what you eat.
Put on your dancing (or walking) shoes
Dancing is a great way to work off some holiday calories. If you are at a family gathering, suggest a walk before the feast or even between dinner and dessert.
Make room for veggies
At meals and parties, don’t ignore fruits and vegetables. They make great snacks and even better side or main dishes — unless they’re slathered with creamy sauces or butter.
Be buffet savvy
At a buffet, wander ’round the food table before putting anything on your plate. By checking out all of your options, you might be less inclined to pile on items one after another.
Don’t shop hungry
Eat before you go shopping so the scent of Cinnabons or caramel corn doesn’t tempt you to gobble treats you don’t need.
Cook from (and for) the heart
To show family and friends that you really care about them, be creative with recipes that use less butter, cream, lard, vegetable shortening, and other ingredients rich in saturated fats and cholesterol. Prepare turkey or fish instead of red meat.
Pay attention to what really matters
Although food is an integral part of the holidays, put the focus on family and friends, laughter and cheer. If balance and moderation are your usual guides, it’s okay to indulge or overeat once in a while.
Enjoy the holidays and follow these tips to stay healthy and prepare for the New Year!!