Smart Healthy Eating Strategies to Get You Through the Holidays

healthy eating

 

The holidays are quickly approaching, which means it’s time to plan your healthy eating strategy for the season. Because most holidays are food-focused, they can cause a large intake of calories and throw your otherwise-healthy lifestyle off track.

Prevent the holidays from sabotaging your healthy lifestyle by putting a plan in place for handling all the extra food and drinks that will come your way during the season. Follow the tips below to celebrate guilt-free!

Plan activities that don’t center on food

Whether you’re hosting a holiday gathering or going to someone else’s house, keep some activities in your back pocket to take you away from the snack table. For example, bring a few favorite board games or set up some simple physical activities that children and adults can enjoy, like a bean bag toss or a relay race.

If you enjoy running or walking, sign your family up for a local 5K event. There are always a ton of turkey trots, jingle bell 5Ks and other holiday-themed races at this time of year. If you’ve never done one, you’ll be hooked after your first race!

Not only will these ideas get your mind off food, but they’ll give everyone something fun to do together. And isn’t that really what the holidays are about?

Avoid skipping meals

Many people make the mistake of skipping meals on the day of a holiday party to “save” their calories for the event. Skipping meals is unhealthy, however, as it leads to poor food choices and often results in overeating.

Instead, eat small meals and snacks throughout the day to keep your blood sugar levels stable and your appetite controlled. When you get to the party, you won’t risk derailing your diet because you’re starving.

Practice mindful eating

The most important thing to practice is being mindful about your food choices and portion control. When you’re mindful about selecting your food, you’ll choose a satisfying portion instead of piling your plate high. You’ll take a small amount of an “indulgent” food to enjoy and balance it out with healthier foods, rather than filling your entire plate with unhealthy choices.

The best part of mindful eating? When you pay attention to what you eat, you’ll actually taste and appreciate your food! Eating mindlessly, on the other hand, always results in the realization that you didn’t enjoy the ton of calories you just consumed.

Make food swaps

As you make your holiday cooking plan, choose your ingredients carefully to keep your dishes on the healthier side. For example, prepare traditional stuffing with whole wheat or whole grain bread rather than white bread. Make a cauliflower mash in place of the traditional mashed potatoes. Substitute whole-wheat flour in place of all-purpose flour in your favorite baking recipes.

Limit your cocktail consumption

The empty calories in alcoholic beverages add up. If you want to enjoy your favorite cocktail occasionally throughout the season without overdoing it, add some mineral water or seltzer to it to keep it light.

 

While food and drinks are certainly a great part of the festivities, holiday celebrations are not just about eating. Focus on the joyous, giving spirit of the season and enjoy spending time with your family, friends and colleagues.


Lighter Versions of Your Favorite Holiday Dishes

Most of what makes this the most wonderful time of the year is the indulgent dishes and drinks. It’s no secret that holiday food isn’t the healthiest, but what if we told you that it’s possible to celebrate the holidays without piling on the calories?

Check out these five recipes that will help make your holiday classics healthier — and maybe even tastier.

light holiday dishes

Eggnog

Nothing feels more festive than cozying up with a big mug of rich eggnog. But between the heavy cream, sugar and eggs, traditional eggnog can wreak havoc on your healthy diet.

But you’re in luck with this Eggnog Smoothie recipe from Fitness Magazine. Simply sub out the cream for almond milk and replace the sugar with the natural sugar in bananas, and you can cut your calorie and fat intake by more than half. (Don’t worry. If you’re feeling naughty instead of nice, you can still spike yours with bourbon.)

light holiday dishes

Pecan Pie

The holidays are synonymous with pie, and of all the season’s delectable pies, our favorite is pecan pie.

Pie is always an indulgence, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take steps to reduce the guilt. Cut out the butter and the sticky corn syrup, and you’ll have a pie that’s less sinful without skimping on taste.

If you prefer other varieties of pie, we’ve got you covered with these healthier recipes for classic apple pie, sweet potato pie and pumpkin pie.

light holiday dishes

Green Bean Casserole

What’s more American than apple pie? Casserole. Green bean casserole is a standard of the holiday season.

Don’t be fooled by the green veggies, though. Traditional green bean casserole packs a lot of calories due to the addition of heavy processed soup and deep-fried onions. Click here for a healthy alternative that’s made from scratch.

light holiday dishes

Mashed Potatoes

Nothing feels like home quite like mashed potatoes. But did you know that you can spruce this dish up to make it even more wholesome?

Simply eliminate the butter and trade whole milk for fat-free milk, and you’ll have yourself a healthier version of this holiday classic.

light holiday dishes

Gingerbread Men

No holiday season is complete without smiling gingerbread men. But don’t be deceived. Behind those smiles lurk loads of fat and sugar.

With a few smart substitutions, you can make your gingerbread men as nice as they look. Try this recipe for healthier gingerbread cookies — we bet even your kids won’t notice the difference.

Maintaining your diet goals doesn’t have to mean putting a stop to your holiday celebrations. Follow these simple recipes to embrace the best of both worlds!