The holidays are easily the toughest time of the year when it comes to staying on track with your healthy diet and lifestyle. Between the numerous holiday parties, cookies and gift boxes full of sweets and treats, it is not always easy saying no to Grandma’s secret recipe snickerdoodles. While it is not realistic to completely avoid holiday foods, it is possible to navigate holiday festivities without completely falling off the wagon.
Holiday foods often follow a common trend, lots of butter and sugar. Creamy dips, cookies, heavy alcoholic drinks and crunchy snacks are a few of the main culprits and are just too easy to pig out on, but they often leave you feeling over stuffed, tired and groggy for several days after.
As we gear up for the holiday hustle and bustle it is important to enter the holiday season with a positive mindset. Have confidence that you will take care of yourself and continue to work towards or maintain your healthy lifestyle.
Follow these holiday survival tips that will help you enjoy holiday festivities, as well as contribute to the holiday festivities in a way that will be beneficial to both you and your community.
- Be Mindful
Being mindful is a great place to start as it can help you think twice about taking additional servings of heavy carbohydrate rich foods like mashed potatoes and stuffing. Focus on enjoying your food and eating it with the intention of tasting the flavor and savoring the extra holiday love that went into preparing it, instead of just shoveling it in. Mindful eating will help with portion control and listening to your gut when you’ve reached max capacity.
- Bring your own
It is common to offer to bring a dish to a family gathering or holiday party. Use this to your advantage by bringing a well rounded dish that can be your go-to if the healthy options are limited. Think outside the typical vegetable or fruit tray and consider bringing a casserole with lean protein, healthy fats and lots of nutrient dense veggies, zucchini chicken pesto bake anyone?
- Rethink your dipper
There is just about every flavor imaginable of dips to be found at holiday parties. From savory to sweet you can almost be certain you will learn about a new variety this season. While dips can be overeaten and their calorie content should be taken into consideration, the actual dipper might be a little easier to switch out. Typically there are chips, pretzels and bread available to use as your dip vehicle, but get creative and switch out these carb and salt heavy options for vegetable sticks. The extra fiber from the vegetables will not only leave you feeling full, they will also help you maintain your blood sugar.
- Get moving
While holiday stress might seem like a good excuse to stop your exercise routine, it is actually the worst thing you can do for your sanity. Taking just 15 – 20 minutes a day to exercise will help with digestion, mood, and weight maintenance, as well as prevent heart disease and maintain blood sugar. Consider your exercise time your “me time” and take some time each day to clear your mind and work those muscles!
- Keep it colorful
When you look down at your plate during the holidays you might notice that it is full of tan and white foods. A plate that lacks variety of color means that it also lack variety of nutrients. By adding color to your plate with fruits and vegetables you will not only reduce the amount of carbohydrate rich foods, you will also be adding fiber that will aid in proper digestion, illness prevention and a steady blood sugar. The American Nutrition and Dietetic association recommends making half of your plate fruits and vegetables. Start your plate by first filling it with colorful fruits and veggies, then add other healthy additions like lean protein and healthy fat to create a well rounded holiday meal.
- Drink smart
Holiday foods are well known to be calorie and carbohydrate dense, but what about holiday beverages? Believe it or not sugary alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages can actually be more detrimental to a balanced diet that holiday eats. Eggnog, holiday cocktails and punch are often loaded with added sugar and can wreak havoc on blood sugar. First, and foremost always consider sticking to water. Water will fill your stomach and keep you hydrated. If you would like to enjoy a beverage outside of water choose low sugar drinks and mixers like unsweetened tea, sparkling water or diet tonic water. Add a splash of cranberry juice and a few lime wedges to your cocktail to add flavor and festive colors.