After Halloween, time just moves faster. Blink once and November ends, blink twice and the holiday season is here. Winter holidays are filled with amazing family traditions, fun activities, and tempting food. Who can say no to all those delicious cookies or that tempting pie? Not to mention all the seasonal drinks and all the traditional food on the Christmas table.
Maintaining a healthy diet during the holidays is challenging for sure. No one wants to be deprived of all the delicious and exciting food to settle for boring but healthy food instead. However, there is a middle ground that involves a good mix of delicious treats, healthy dishes, no extra weight, and, most importantly, no side of guilt.
It takes determination and planning but, with these simple strategies, you can enjoy the holiday festivities and stay on track with your healthy diet at the same time.
Make Recipe Modifications
You don’t have to give up on all your favorite dishes to be healthy, you just have to modify the recipes and make healthy substitutions. Replace whole milk with skim milk, sour cream with Greek yogurt, butter with coconut oil, sugar with honey or coconut sugar. You can also replace red meat with turkey and serve more vegetable side dishes than usual. These simple swaps can significantly lower the fat, sugar, and caloric intake while food remains amazing.
Learn How to Portion Control
You can enjoy a slice of that appetizing cake or a few cookies if you opt for healthy dishes for the rest of the meal. If you don’t have a sweet tooth, you can satisfy your savory cravings and skip dessert or enjoy some fruits instead. Portion control means balance so make sure you don’t eat more than you need, no matter how tempting it is to do it. When in doubt, add some veggies.
Make Healthy Choices
Speaking of veggies, a nice trick to limit carbs during the holidays is to fill your plate with healthy sides. Pile on healthy veggies and skip the sauces and butter. This doesn’t seem like much but you’re actually avoiding many unnecessary calories and fats.
One simple trick that can make a big difference is eating mindfully. This means paying attention to your food and taking your time with it. Don’t rush through your meal, chew slowly, and enjoy every bite. It takes a while for your brain to register that you’re full, that’s why most of us overeat when we’re in a hurry. However, there’s no point to rush during the holidays, thus you can relax and savor every bite. Your meals will be more enjoyable and you’ll eat less than usual without being hungry or craving food all the time.
Don’t Skip Meals
You may think that skipping a meal is a good idea. After all, you’re eating less, right? Sadly, the answer is no. Skipping meals only leads to overeating at the next meal. On top of that, this habit slows down the metabolism so you’ll burn fewer calories than usual. Furthermore, you’ll feel run down and tired. It’s not ideal to starve all day only to indulge in unhealthy foods all night. If you know a big meal awaits and you want to limit your calories intake, opt for healthy snacks such as fruits or complex carbs throughout the day.
How many times did you hear that it is important to drink water? Most likely, way too many times. Yet, staying hydrated is crucial if you want a healthy life. Skip all the sugary drinks and stick to water. Opt for a cup of coffee if you feel the need for something else. A glass of eggnog can add 500 calories you don’t need so it’s safer to stick to water. Unless, of course, you prefer eggnog to dessert in which case, enjoy the eggnog.
Alcohol is another problem during the holidays. It’s easy to drink your calories without even realizing it since no one actually counts the calories in alcohol. Nevertheless, alcoholic beverages can be quite high in calories. In addition, the calories are not even good calories; they are empty calories that don’t bring you any real benefits. You can enjoy a drink or two if you drink a glass of water in between. In this way, you’ll stay hydrated and you’ll drink less alcohol. Avoid drinking alcohol on an empty stomach at all costs. Alcohol increases the appetite so you’ll be tempted to eat more and not pay attention to what you eat. On the other hand, water makes you experience satiety faster, which will allow you to be in control of how much you eat.
Make it your mission to exercise more during the holidays. You don’t have to go to the gym on Christmas Eve to be active. You can incorporate physical activities into your Christmas happenings without making it a burden. Go for a walk in the park, skate, put on your dance shoes and dance around; anything that keeps you moving is a good idea.
Make a Plan and Stick to It
Planning is the key to turn all these ideas into doable actions. If you have a holiday party on your calendar, skip sweets and eat fewer carbs throughout the day so you can enjoy something delicious treats during the night without the added guilt. If you love to cook, bring something healthy to the party. No matter what other dishes are on the food table, you know you have a healthy option. And don’t forget, when in doubt, opt for veggie sides and fruits for dessert.
Avoid Recreational Eating
If you’re at a party or a holiday gathering, stay away from the food table. You’ll be less tempted to eat if food is not in sight. The same thing goes for when you’re home – keep yourself busy with fun activities that can easily make you forget about all the snacks and treats that are in the house.
Don’t Shop Hungry
Most of us shop more than we need when we’re hungry. It’s not you, it’s the hunger, really. But, if you don’t want to reach out to all the unhealthy snacks while shopping, it is best to eat something before heading to the grocery store.Don’t Lose Your Focus
While food is an important part of the holidays, it’s not the most important one. It’s the family and friends we should focus on so keep them in the center of attention and you won’t struggle to make healthy choices.