4 Tips for Healthier Holiday EatingBy Emily Harland, RDN, CSO, LDN
The holidays can be a difficult time of year for those trying to focus on health and wellness. With so many gatherings and events centered on food, it can be easy to overdo it and not feel your best. Let’s discuss some ways to navigate the holidays while keeping food fun, fresh and most importantly, healthy!
Your strategy for a healthier holiday starts in the morning. Avoid the urge to skip breakfast. The “saving up calories” tactic typically leads to feeling extra hungry later in the day and can lead to overindulging once the party rolls around. Focus on eating a nutrient-dense breakfast that includes all of the macronutrients: complex carbohydrates, lean protein and healthy fat.
Before you get intimidated, you actually don’t even need to cook! A simple meal like a plain Greek yogurt topped with half a cup of fruit and a tablespoon of chia seeds is going to provide all three of these major macronutrients and get you off to a great start.
Lighten up the drinks
Holiday beverages are the sneakiest source of added sugar around this time of year. With sugar-sweetened drinks (soda, juice) and alcoholic beverages, it’s not uncommon to consume an entire day’s worth of added sugar in one drink. A simple solution is to combine fruit-flavored seltzer water with your favorite mix-ins to cut back on sugar while still retaining the flavor. This helps ensure that you stay hydrated throughout the party as well!
Try this delicious combo: grapefruit seltzer water, ½ a lime, ice and a sprig of mint. You can also add a shot of tequila, rum or vodka, if desired, for a festive and refreshing adult beverage.
Be app-ropriately choosy
Appetizers are a big source of temptation; it’s hard to resist the array of tantalizing finger foods and small bites typically set out prior to the meal. Rather than grazing mindlessly, opt for a plate of just your favorites and focus on including at least one fruit or vegetable. You could even be the appetizer hero by bringing a vegetable and hummus tray or fruit and dip to provide the party with a nutrient-dense option and satisfy a variety of dietary needs.
Now to everybody’s favorite part: dessert! The key to eating healthy and enjoying dessert is to truly focus on what you really want. We recommend choosing one or two of your favorite dessert choices and savoring them slowly and mindfully. If you do choose to spring for a sample of all of the sweets, you may leave feeling uncomfortably full rather than just happy and satisfied. It’s also helpful to wait 15-20 minutes after eating your main meal to let your body sense just how full you are. Come dessert time, pay close attention to your body’s hunger and fullness cues.
For a light and festive dessert option, try slicing up several apples into a glass baking dish, sprinkle with a little cinnamon and nutmeg and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. After baking, top the apples with dollops of Greek yogurt and walnuts for a delicious, nutritious and seasonally appropriate treat.
The holidays should truly be a time of celebration and relaxation. If you do happen to eat more than planned during this season, lose the guilt and don’t beat yourself up. You can get back to your healthy eating habits the very next day! Remember that every time you eat is a new opportunity to make a good choice. If you need help getting into the eating habits that make you feel your best, set up an appointment with one of our dietitians today!
Find more healthy living inspiration from our experts here.