People have been celebrating holidays with gatherings and food for thousands of years, but just because it's the holiday season doesn't mean you can't eat healthy food. Registered dietician Greta Macaire of the California Pacific Medical Center states that the holiday pounds we pack on over the years can add up. Macaire recommends balancing food, fun and activity with realistic goals to achieve a healthy season with zero weight gain. There are a number of eating tips that can improve the likelihood of success.
Bring a healthy dish to a planned dinner. Roast chunks of sweet potatoes with a little olive oil and cinnamon, instead of making sweet potato casserole. Use savvy preparations to reduce calories, such as refrigerating gravy, skimming off the fat and reheating it for a healthier dish. Consider using chicken broth or skim milk with parmesan cheese and garlic to make mashed potatoes instead of milk and butter. Macaire suggests making a crust-less pumpkin pie or trying fresh green beans with chunks of potato and sliced almonds instead of creamed soup.
Alcoholic beverages reduce inhibitions and lead us into temptations, and non-alcoholic drinks are loaded with sugar and calories. Better choices are iced teas and healthy nogs. Macarire recommends fruit nogs made of bananas, skim or soy milk, non-fat yogurt and rum extract. Top the nog with nutmeg for holiday flair. If you do drink a glass of wine or a cocktail, stick to one and then switch to something non-alcoholic.
Don’t expect to lose weight over the holidays. Your goal should be to maintain and not gain pounds. Balance food with activity by setting time aside for exercise. If you overeat during one meal, take it easy during the next one. Take the time to savor every bite, and take small portions. Eat until you're satisfied but not stuffed. Macaire says to look over buffets and select only your favorite foods, skipping the rest. Balance your plate with vegetables and fruits.
The American Diabetes Association recommends getting everyone involved in fun activities such as turkey trots or reindeer runs. The lack of physical activity during the holidays is a contributing factor to weight gain. Suggest a walk after dinner or a game in the backyard. Offer to help clean up after a meal, or begin teaching the younger guests how to do aerobics. Instead of baking holiday cookies, make bread dough decorations. Volunteer at a food bank or soup kitchen to take the focus off the food you want to eat.
Eat carrots, celery or a healthy snack before dinner. Chances are it will keep your body away from the tendency to overeat. Don’t skip meals in anticipation of the big event. Arriving hungry almost guarantees eating more than usual. This tip is most beneficial for people with diabetes because the need is to keep blood glucose at a steady level.
Follow these simple tips for holiday eating, and you will be surprised by how easy it is to eat healthy during the holidays.