How to eat well during the holidays
One of the best things about the holidays is the cornucopia of delicious food available for what seems like weeks on end. It’s something we all look forward to – especially those traditional family favorites we’ve enjoyed for years – but the easily accessible rich foods and sinful treats makes overindulging very easy to do.
It’s possible to eat well during the holidays while still enjoying everything the season has to offer. The key is moderation and following common sense tips like these:
Focus on eating the healthy stuff. Even tables filled with rich, fattening food usually have some healthy things hidden on them if you search hard enough. At cocktail parties look for vegetable and fruit platters, and drink sparkling water with just a splash of fruit juice rather than a sugary, sweet punch. At family dinners, load up on healthy sides like plain steamed veggies, and take smaller portions of meat and other rich sides. Portion control and moderation are important too. Have dessert, but just have half a serving instead of the whole slice of cake or pie.
Sip on that craving. Yes, herbal tea isn’t exactly the same thing as a plateful of sugar cookies or a rich dessert, but it can help you feel satisfied when you want a treat. Look for herbal teas with holiday spice blends to help make them feel extra special. Not only is this a healthy way to hydrate, but it’s comforting too.
Be aware of your plate ratio. A good rule of thumb is to fill half of your holiday dinner plate with vegetables or salad, a quarter with protein, and the last quarter with grains or fillers like stuffing and mashed potatoes. Read more about the USDA’s dietary guidelines – which supports the half a plate idea all year ‘round – by visiting More Matters.
Make healthy freezer meals in advance. The holidays are a busy time, and it can be tempting to order fast food or succumb to less healthy options when we’re feeling tired or stressed out. Before things get too hectic, make some healthy soups and stews to pop in the freezer for those evenings when you want a quick meal. Check out Eating Well (http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/18042/soup/) for some delicious inspiration.
Be selective. It’s the holidays, so of course you want to indulge a bit. Just be selective when you do. Don’t waste calories on a store-bought pie or cookies; save them for delicious homemade treats instead. They’ll taste even that much better if you do!
Bring healthy with you. Hosts love it when you lend a hand, so bring a healthy salad, steamed veggies, a vegetable or fruit platter, or a healthier version of a delicious dessert. That way you’ll always have something to choose that you know is a healthier option.
Keep your fridge stocked with healthy snacks. Clean and cut up raw vegetables like celery, carrots, cucumbers, fennel, bell peppers; and pop some apples and oranges in the crisper to make your fridge a healthy snack stop. When healthy foods are easy to grab, it makes eating healthy easier for everyone.
The bottom line is that you shouldn’t deprive yourself of all the culinary holiday fun. Just be aware of what you’re consuming, eat healthy options whenever you find them, and make sure to save the calories for indulgences that you simply can’t miss out on.
For more tips on living well during the holidays, read our “Healthy holidays to you!” article.
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