The holiday season is a fun time to relax and celebrate the good things in life. It can also be a time of year that expands your waistband if you get overindulgent with holiday foods! Read our tips below for staying healthy while enjoying everything the holiday season has to offer.
Check out this BuckeyeBites recipe for your healthy holidays - Winter Squash and Apple Hash with Cranberry Chutney.
- Be creative with vegetables. There’s more interesting options you can try besides the veggie tray if you’re trying to be more mindful of health during the holidays! Try roasted winter vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, or carrots with herbs and topping with a small amount of glaze (maple and balsamic vinegar is amazing!) for a punch of flavor. Or see where you can sneak extra vegetables into traditional dishes (cauliflower mashed potatoes, extra veggies in your stuffing, etc)
- Be choosy. It’s easy to get into the habit of eating everything that’s offered at a holiday gathering, but do your best to be picky at dinners and parties. Only eat the foods that excite you the most and skip the ones that you can live without.
- Savor the flavor. Slow down and eat your holiday meal mindfully. Really take notice of the smell, taste, and texture of the food. Mindful eating can help give your stomach time to communicate to your brain that you are full (remember, it takes 20 minutes!), making it more likely that you won’t overindulge. It can also help you to more fully enjoy the meal too!
- Stay active. Holidays don’t have to be all about the food! Keep some of the focus this season on activities like ice skating, sledding, and snowball fights. Consider going for a daily walk if it’s not too brisk, or stay out of the cold and do a quick home workout, you can find many videos on the internet for inspiration.
- Eat before the party. Trying to “save your calories” for a meal later in the day often backfires. You’ll be more likely to make smarter food choices and avoid overindulging if you’ve filled your belly beforehand. Keep it light but filling by pairing foods high protein and fiber for a snack or small meal before the main event (i.e. ¼ c nuts + 1 cup fruit, Greek yogurt + ½ cup oatmeal, 1 egg + 1 slice whole wheat toast)
- Keep healthy snacks on hand. If you find you get overly tempted by the holiday cookies lying around at home or co-workers bringing in holiday treats to share, keep a stash of healthy snacks at hand to avoid feeling pressured to eat holiday foods just because they are “there”.
- Bring a healthy dish to share. If you’re not sure what types of foods will be available at a holiday party, plan to bring a healthy dish along with you. You can make that dish the star of your plate, and have small portions of the more indulgent foods that are offered.
- Stick with water. Juice, pop, and alcohol can add up over the holidays. If it’s more important to you to have dessert or another indulgent holiday food, make room for it by hydrating with water. Or, cut the calories by watering down your juice, pop, or alcohol with seltzer water
- Be portion wise. To avoid overindulging at meals, aim to fill ½ of your plate with vegetables, ¼ plate with protein, ¼ plate with carbohydrates. If multiple carbohydrate foods look appealing (rolls, potatoes, stuffing, casseroles), take a small portion of each one that you want so that they still only fill ¼ of the plate.
- Drop the guilt. Aiming to completely avoid indulgent foods or making efforts to lose weight are not always realistic goals this time of year. Guilt around these areas can make stress worse, possibly leading to poor food choices and overindulgence. Use the above strategies as much as possible to help strike a balance, but if you “slip” one day, it’s not the end of the world. Start over the next day!