Holidays are known for culinary indulgence – not healthy foods. But no one likes extra calories and added pounds that can accompany seasonal foods. Regardless of what’s on the menu, you can make the most of enjoying the festivities by following a few smart tricks. You’ll look great in those family photos too!
Make smart substitutions.
- Practice making your favorite holiday dishes a little healthier:
- Avoid sugar rushes (and crashes), and cut the sugar by one-third in recipes.
- Savor the flavor by using herbs and spices to flavor dishes instead of salt or butter.
- Fill half your plate with steamed vegetables instead of sweets, grains or protein.
- When you do reach for protein, choose lean options like turkey, roast beef or fresh ham.
- Use one percent or evaporated skim milk instead of whole milk or cream.
Don’t party on an empty stomach.
“Before heading to your favorite holiday party, eat a piece of fruit, a cup of yogurt or another light snack,” says Megan Bobay, RDN, CD, Parkview Nutrition Services. “This helps curb your appetite so you don’t over-indulge in the sweet treats while you’re there.” If your party is in the evening, make sure to have a healthy breakfast and lunch.
Create and bring your own.
Contributing a dish to any holiday event you’re invited to is the best way to ensure a healthy alternative will be available. Tell the host how much you like to cook and give a heads-up as to what you’ll bring. Aim for making your dish pair nicely with the other foods being offered.
Use the buddy system.
By splitting a dessert with someone, you can cut the calories in half and avoid being wasteful. It’s a win-win!
Go for the green. And red and orange and blue…
“Avoid loading up on foods that are fried, buttered or have a lot of cheese and cream,” says Megan. “Even though the portions may be small, these fat-laden bites can pack a punch.” Instead, she suggests reaching for the greens, and filling your plate with fresh vegetables. Go for the red and orange and blue, too. “Fresh fruit is a healthy way to satisfy your sweet tooth,” explains Megan.
Judge the book by its cover.
- It may be best to pass on stuffings if they look like they’re:
- Filled with fatty meats like sausage and pork
- Greasy or buttery
- Made with white bread or sweet rolls
Better options would be stuffings that have cornbread or whole-grains, lean meat, nuts (almonds or walnuts) and lots of vegetables and fruits.
Don’t give in to your fear of missing out.
‘Tis the season of splurges. Missing out on Grandma Mable’s unbelievable warm apple pie and homemade vanilla ice cream, Aunt Betty’s candied yams or Uncle Eddie’s eggnog may not seem like an option. But splurging at every meal isn’t really splurging – it’s just eating unhealthily. Give yourself a budget of three splurges each week, and enjoy them however you choose. This will help you splurge only when it’s worth it. But when it’s not, just say, “No, thank you,” and focus on how fabulous you feel to start the New Year with no added holiday weight.
Here's a printable reminder.