Tips for a healthy and happy holiday
Everyone has heard about or experienced the holiday weight gain. With three holidays in less than 40 days all involving yummy foods galore, sometimes a little weight creeps on. Despite our best intentions that this year will be different, we still end up feeling a tad depressed when the New Year rolls around and we step on the scale.
Here are a few tips for a healthy and happy holiday – so you can enjoy some of your favorite holiday foods, but without overindulging.
1. Decide what’s most important. What foods can you absolutely not live without this season? Does Christmas naturally mean Grandma’s peanut butter fudge? Your mom’s pecan cheese ball? Write these special foods down. When you get to a holiday party and are tempted by a decadent dish, think about your list. Is it on there? If not, find something healthier.
2. Skinny it down! Substituting healthier ingredients for fat-laden ones is the easiest way to keep the holiday calorie consumption under control. For example, use whole-wheat pasta instead of enriched-white pasta. You will end up increasing your fiber intake and reducing calories. Use low-fat dairy products wherever you can – especially with cheeses, sour cream, and cream cheese. You’ll never notice the difference. For baked goods, use half the butter, shortening, or oil and replace it with unsweetened applesauce or mashed banana. You can often reduce sugar amounts called for in recipes by one-third to one-half without ever even noticing. Test out reducing it by small amounts and then increasingly larger amounts. Cut the salt in baked goods by half or completely.
3. Portions, portions, portions. One small helping of sweet potato casserole isn’t going to wreck your healthy eating habits. Two or three large helpings will. Stick with small servings of the dishes that you must have.
4. Veggie tray anyone? If you are invited to a New Year’s Eve party where you know there won’t be many healthy choices, speak with the host ahead of time and offer to bring a dish. Fix a low-fat veggie dip and cut up a tray of vegetables.
5. Don’t skip meals. Often, in anticipation of a huge evening dinner or party, folks skip regular meals through the day in an attempt to “save up” calories. The best thing to do is to eat a healthy breakfast and lunch. By skipping these meals, you arrive at a party starved and ready to devour anything in sight. Eat healthy and then enjoy a couple favorite dishes.
6. Get plenty of exercise. Keep up your regular exercise routine through the holidays, even when it means waking up early to get in a run because you’ll be out late.
Try this “slimmed down” dessert from the American Diabetes Association for a nice end to a holiday meal this year:
Yield: 16 tarts
1 package (8 oz.) nonfat cream cheese
¼ cup no-sugar-added strawberry jam
¼ cup slivered almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped
16 mini phyllo dough shells, thawed
½ cup sliced strawberries
In a mixing bowl, beat together the cream cheese and jam. Fold in the almonds. Divide the mixture among the phyllo dough shells. Top each tart with strawberries.
2 tarts = 110 calories, 6 grams fat, 10 grams carb, 2 grams fiber, 2 grams sugar