From frosted sugar cookies to calorie-packed gravy, the holiday season is filled with delicious temptations. So, how do you keep up healthy habits while also allowing yourself to enjoy the spirit of the season?
“There are obviously a lot of treats over the holidays, but it doesn’t have to mean that you’re eating less healthy or being less active than usual,” said Marion Smith, a dietitian at Regions Hospital.
“As long as you’re conscious about continuing healthy habits throughout the holidays, and indulging in moderation, it’s absolutely possible to maintain your weight and stay on a healthy track.”
Marion offered a few helpful tips on how to balance moderation and merriment.
Eat healthy by practicing mindfulness
Practicing mindfulness around your eating habits means being “present” – focusing on your thoughts and how your body feels. Here are some examples:
Those sugar cookies look tasty, but am I actually hungry?
I’m feeling full. I might have put too much food on my plate. I should stop eating now.
Before eating something, focus on how you feel and ask yourself if you’re hungry. You can also ask yourself if you’re thirsty because dehydration can sometimes feel like hunger. Practice being mindful of what you eat, how much unhealthy food you eat and how much of your time is being spent near the treat table.
Enjoy all the food groups
Enjoy all kinds of food groups at your celebration. Include fresh fruit at the dessert table and share healthier options during your holiday meal. Fill up on healthy foods, like veggies, fruit and whole grains before going to a holiday party. This will help you avoid the temptation to fill up on desserts. Instead of grabbing a cookie each time you walk by the dessert table, limit yourself to one or two.
Make exercise part of your holiday tradition
Whether it’s going to a fitness class or taking a walk with family and friends, try making exercise a part of your celebration. Engaging your family and friends in your physical activities will help you stay focused on your goals and make them more enjoyable. At holiday parties, mingle, laugh and play games. Focus on the fun instead of sampling all the different treats.
“Over the holidays, my family always goes for a walk as part of the day’s festivities,” said Marion. “Even if it’s cold outside, we just bundle up.”
Bake healthy treats
Eating healthy can be really difficult around the holidays, thanks to all the tempting options. A lot of the food at holiday parties is high in calories, fat and sugar. If you can’t avoid the treats, try baking them with healthy substitutes. Unsweetened applesauce or mashed bananas can be used instead of butter. Try reducing the amount of sugar in a recipe by using spices like cinnamon, allspice or nutmeg for flavor. There are many recipes that allow you to make the food you love in a healthier way.
And if you make a big batch of treats at home and are tempted to eat them all, pack them up as gifts for family and friends.
Check out yumPower for different recipes.