7 Tips for Healthy Eating Over the Holidays
1. Don’t skip breakfast
Set yourself up for success by having a balanced breakfast with protein to start your day. Don’t “save up” for a big meal by skipping breakfast, because this is almost certain to lead to poor food decisions and overeating later in the day. Avoid all-carbohydrate breakfasts like cereal or pancakes. These won’t keep you full long. Include proteins like eggs or egg whites, nonfat Greek yogurt, or peanut butter for more staying power.
2. Offer to bring a vegetable based side
The number one way to make sure you have something healthy to eat at a holiday gathering- bring something to share! Try modifying one of your favorite recipes like a green bean casserole to be lower calorie or bring a veggie tray or salad. Roasted vegetables and soups are also a favorite during this season!
3. Limit liquid calories
While eggnog and wine can be tempting traditions around the holidays, they can add up in calories fast! One cup of regular eggnog is 340 calories! (Light eggnog ranges from 100-280 calories per cup). One glass of wine (5oz) is around 120 calories. Trade caloric beverages for seltzer with a splash of light cranberry juice for a festive, low calorie drink.
4. Snack Smarter
Especially if traveling, make sure to pack healthy snacks on the plane or for the car ride. This can help you avoid less healthy fast food or airport food options- and save money! Even if you’re staying close to home around the holidays, stock up on healthy snacks to avoid overeating at meals and tame the temptation of holiday treats.
5. Fill your plate with vegetables first
Aim for half a plate of non-starchy vegetables to moderate calorie intake and avoid being hungry a few hours later. Starchy vegetables include potatoes, corn, peas, beans, winter squash. Balance these and other carbohydrates (breads, rice, pastas, sweets) with non-starchy vegetables like green beans, salad, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, carrots, celery, cauliflower, broccoli- the options are endless!
6. Eat until satisfied, not stuffed
Eat slowly and enjoy your food. Check in with your hunger level halfway through the meal. Give yourself permission to eat more if you are truly hungry, as well as permission to leave some food on your plate when you are satisfied. Don’t let others’ expectations dictate your decisions. It is ok to not try every food offered and to save food for leftovers.
7. Maintain your activity level- or increase it!
Plan strategically to maintain your exercise routine during the holidays. With days off work and travel, exercise can end up on the back burner. Look ahead at your plans to pencil in the days on your calendar you can fit in activity. To mitigate extra calories on holidays, start a new tradition of doing something active after a big meal! Instead of collapsing on the couch, go on a walk with the family or play with the kids outside.