We all love holiday food, but not when it adds cushioning to our waistlines (and butts and hips). There’s a reason why January is the busiest month at the gym. It’s hard to stay on track during the holiday season when unhealthy food choices and workout distractions are everywhere. That doesn’t mean you should use the holiday season as an excuse to throw in the towel on your healthy lifestyle goals. Fortunately, that doesn’t mean that you need to forgo your favorite foods in exchange for solely carrots and hummus, either. There are ways to enjoy holiday goodies and eat healthy. By following a few simple tips, you can have your cake and eat it, too!
Stay in your skinny jeans this holiday season by incorporating these 6 Ideas for Eating Healthy During the Holidays:
1. Pick your cut of meat carefully. The cut and grade of meat you select for your holiday dinner can significantly affect your fat and calorie intake. Ask your butcher for help selecting a leaner cut of meat, or, at the supermarket, look for “Select” grade meat, which is usually the leanest.
2. Know your substitutions. Instead of using heavy cream, try substituting fat-free half-and-half or evaporated milk instead. Applesauce (natural, no sugar added) can be used in place of oil in many baked goods recipes. Try sweetening with honey or agave syrup instead of sugar. Even switching to whole-grain breads is a step in the right direction. Take a look at our Gluten Free Quinoa Holiday Dressing, Green Bean Casserole, and Whole Grain Yeast Rolls recipes for substitution inspiration.
Southern Style Green Beans
Green Beans with Cranberries & Walnuts
Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Mash
Sweet & Savory Sweet Potatoes
3. Try sampling. No more heaping piles of fattening foods covered in generous amounts of gravy. To get through the holidays without having to go up a pant size, you’ll need to get used to sampling instead. To remind yourself of healthy portion sizes, just look at your hand. An average adult-sized fist is comparable to about 1 cup of food (use for beverages, casseroles, soups, fresh fruit, salads). The amount of food that would fill a cupped hand equals about ½ cup (oatmeal, pasta, rice, potatoes, beans, cooked veggies, desserts). Your palm (which measures out about 3 ounces) is the best reference for knowing how much meat you should have per meal. And your thumb is about the size of a tablespoon (salad dressings, peanut butter, sour cream, cream cheese).
4. Load up on cranberry. Cranberries are loaded with vitamin K, potassium, tannins, manganese, and more, so they may end up being the healthiest option at a holiday gathering. Just make sure you’re eating more cranberries than sugar. If the gathering is at your place, consider making our Slow Cooker Cranberry Sauce.
5. Get smarter about sweets. Nothing is more tempting than the scrumptious desserts that emerge during the holiday season. Try taking as small of a serving as possible and then filling the rest of your plate with healthier foods. If you’re eating potluck style with family or friends, bring an assorted fruit tray (you can even pair it with a dipping sauce like our Skinny Peanut Butter Yogurt Dip) so you have the option to load up on more fruit than sugar. If fruit isn’t around, try drinking hot chocolate (made with water or skim milk) or apple cider to satisfy your sweet tooth instead.
6. Keep exercising. It’s so tempting to become a sloth around holiday time, but you’ll feel much better if you stick to your exercise routine. If you’re staying with relatives, try working in workouts like the ones on our On the Road Workout page. You can also initiate games of touch football, family hikes, playing in the snow, or video game dance-a-thons.
Need more ideas for what to cook this holiday season? Take a look at our SkinnyMs. Holiday Recipe Roundup.
What are your secrets for staying slim during the holidays? We’d love to hear about them. Leave us a message in the comment area below.