Good food and the holiday season just seem to go together. Indulging in delicious meals with family and friends can cause even the most health-conscious people to forget smart eating habits. Remember — eating healthy doesn't have to mean missing out on holiday fun. You don't even have to give up your favorite foods. Careful planning and eating in moderation can help you enjoy your favorite dishes — guilt-free.
Foods high in fats and sugar can slow you down and cause you to gain unwanted pounds (the average American gains 9-15 lbs over the holidays). Vegetables, fruits and whole grains boost your immune system and give you much-needed energy to juggle all the activities of the season. Keep these tips in mind when planning your holiday meals:
- Stock up on satisfying, healthy snacks for yourself and visitors. Try raw broccoli, peppers, cucumbers, celery and carrots; hummus and pita bread; or low-fat cheeses and crackers. Nibbling on these can take the edge off your hunger and help you resist sweet temptations.
- Make healthy substitutions for some less nutritious ingredients in your favorite dishes. Use fat-free sour cream or yogurt for dips; evaporated skim milk in sauces and soups; spices and herbs instead of salt; and whole-wheat flour instead of white flour.
- Bake stuffing outside the turkey to cut down on fat and calories, and avoid bacteria. If you must stuff your bird, do it just before you put it in the oven. Use onions and celery in the stuffing instead of sausage. Instead of butter or oils, use applesauce for added moisture.
- Be realistic. Find a compromise between eliminating all the holiday goodies from your diet and indulging in an unlimited amount. Make that piece of pie a sliver. Grab two cookies instead of a handful. Save up your dessert calories for one favorite dish instead of snacking throughout the day.
Another tip to remember is to keep your metabolism retraining going. Remember, any movement above and beyond what you normally do is going to help you speed up your metabolism. Instead of hitting the couch after a big meal take a walk with family or friends. Go outside and enjoy the snow; make a snowman, go sledding, ice skating, or have a snowball fight. If there’s no snow—go to a museum, aquarium, or zoo (many zoos will have Christmas light displays). Whatever you choose just make sure it involves more activity than you are used to and you’ll burn more calories.