Try these simple nutrition tips for a healthy holiday season and best of all, a healthy you!
Raise your hand if you recently felt bad about eating those extra holiday cookies at your latest work party? Yup, it happens to all of us this time of year! There is no need to put yourself down. Read along as I discuss some healthy holiday eating tips; tis the season to be merry and healthy!
Fill up on those colorful fruits and vegetables
This one is really obvious, but so true! The more you include those fiber-rich and vitamin-loaded fruits and vegetables, the fuller you will feel. This leads to less calories consumed on those heavy calorie foods like grandma’s pecan pie or buttery mashed potatoes. Enjoy a beautiful salad with non-creamy dressing (unless low fat dairy) topped with protein-packed nuts and seasonal fresh fruit. Nothing is more festive than a colorful salad, am I right?
Instead of the typical pies and cakes, why not try baked fruit? Apples and pears baked in natural honey or maple syrup topped with oats are delicious. Recently I baked pears with oats, maple syrup, and pomegranate seeds, just delicious! If fruit is not your type of dessert, try sneaking more fruit into your morning’s oatmeal or smoothie to get more benefits. Here are more tips on filling up your plate.
Choose a healthy holiday starter
We all have heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Yes it’s true. Starting your day with a protein-rich breakfast keeps your stomach more satisfied and your blood sugar levels from dropping later in the day. With a happy stomach and healthy blood sugar levels, you are less likely to eat excessively at your other meals or next holiday party.
Speaking of holiday party, if you are hosting, try serving that healthy salad we mentioned or a non-creamed soup. Unless it is a lowfat dairy like lite coconut milk or low fat milk, clear broth or vegetable soups are the best choice. These foods also keep you satiated especially in time for the arrival of the much anticipated holiday roast! For a detailed menu with healthy modifications, check out this great article by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Lean, mean “protein” machine
When it comes to the holidays, all eyes are on the main entree! Whether it is glazed ham, beef brisket, or even rack of lamb, the main dish is always the perfect centerpiece. These meat dishes can sneak in a lot of calories and saturated fat. For healthier choices, try to aim for the parts with out the skin or marbled fat. Or better yet, aim for leaner protein choices, like chicken, pork loin, or seafood. According to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, we are not meeting our twice a week (total of 8oz or more) recommendation. Instead, we are consuming high amounts of chicken and beef and even exceeding the amounts of protein recommended.
If meat and fish aren’t for you, try some nutritious legumes (also known as pulses) such as a lentil stew or stuffed squash with beans. Eggs are also an excellent source of protein and can be very versatile. For a holiday dinner or brunch, mix them in a casserole or serve as a frittata. Try my recipe for a salmon and winter vegetable frittata coming soon on One Hungry Bunny!
Fool your own eyes (and stomach)
Want to know an excellent trick that works all year round and not just for healthy holiday eating? Use a smaller plate and serving utensils. Most standard dinner plates are 10-12″, but salad plates are usually up to 9″. This automatically cuts your portion sizes down and we all know portion size control is key for a healthy eating habits. Whether you end up using a salad plate or dinner plate, try to fill half your plate with non-starchy vegetables like salad, leafy greens, or roasted vegetables like carrots or Brussels sprouts.
Be your best social butterfly!
This time of year is all about the holiday parties and lots of mingling. We get so distracted and forget that when we were so busy catching up with family and friends we already had a second cheese plate. Appetizers can carry a lot of the delicious goodies like artichoke dip and bacon wrapped “anything”. These foods are loaded with excessive saturated fats and empty calories. Treat yourself to a bite or two, but try to focus more on the vegetable platter, whole grain crackers, and yogurt-based dips and sauces if available. Another good tip is to not stand right next to the food table when socializing. Who can say no to melted brie or pigs in a blanket when it is right in your face? I know I can’t!
A healthy holidays isn’t only about watching what we eat. The real meaning is sharing joy and love this holiday season with those we care about. If those ugly Christmas sweaters put a smile on your face then go for it! If watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation for the millionth time with your family (like me) makes you laugh, then have at it! From my family to your, I want to wish everyone a very happy and healthy holiday season!!