The holidays are filled with temptations that can seem to move us away from health goals. But enjoying holiday favorites doesn’t necessarily mean sacrificing good health. Here are three realistic ways you can enjoy a healthful holiday season.
Focus on fellowship. This year, make it a point to step away from distractions, eat at the table, and take only as much as you can comfortably eat in a single sitting. Overeating is less likely when eating slowly and limiting distractions as it allows the brain a chance to process the meal. Try taking small samples of holiday items, or splitting a dessert with a cousin or friend. Aim to balance your plate with a protein, starch and vegetable, and be sure to listen to your body’s hunger and fullness cues. For smaller family gatherings minimize overeating using individually sized entrees such as turkey tenderloins or Cornish hens instead of cooking a whole turkey.
Utilize substitutions. Many items can be made healthier with simple substitutions. Look for whole grain flour and bread products, use unsweetened applesauce for oil in a baking recipe, substituting avocado as a healthy fat to replace cheese or mayonnaise, or simply choose low sodium broths and seasonings. Challenge yourself to think of creative ways to substitute whole dishes for a healthier version. For example, consider serving roasted potatoes in place of traditional mashed potatoes or mini versions of your favorite desserts.
Don’t just rest while you digest. Physical activity is extremely important in maintaining health. The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion recommends adults get 150 – 300 minutes of moderate – intensity exercise each week and that children get at least 60 minutes of exercise each day. Reach this goal as a family by an activity that is both fun and active during your next holiday gathering.