The most wonderful time of year is upon us with the holidays closely approaching! From baking festive cookies, attending parties, and numerous other events, it is no wonder this wonderful time of year isn’t the most wonderful time for health and fitness goals. No matter what your goal(s) might be, there are a few tips to help you on your way to a healthier new year – even during the holidays. Follow these five simple healthy holiday eating tips to improve your waistline, your energy, and your health and vitality this holiday season.
1. Plan Time For Exercise
During the holidays, schedules are a little busier than other times of the year. Each year, I see numerous people put their exercise routines on the back burner due to other events. My challenge for you is to write down your weekly workouts and the days you are going to get some activity and make it a priority. It is like making an appointment with yourself, the key is to stay consistent and do not make a habit of canceling! Even something as simple as a twenty-minute walk to get your blood flowing, oxygen moving around in your body, and your endorphins released will help in more ways than you can imagine. Plan time for your exercise and make it a priority. You will not regret it!
2. Transition To Healthy Holiday Dishes
We all have our favorite holiday dishes – the foods we have each year that are staples at get-togethers. Everyone can have their one dish that is their ‘must have’; however try turning the other foods into healthier entrees by altering their recipes a bit. For example, toss together some fresh green beans instead of green bean casserole, avoid excess carbohydrates by avoiding croutons and excess dressing in tossed salads, and top cookies with plain Greek yogurt and fresh fruit rather than artificial frosting. Changing up these ingredients is not only simple, but fun to experiment and see how your friends and family like the new recipe. It will bring a smile to your face knowing you made the holidays healthier for yourself and all those around you.
3. Celebrate The Holiday
Many celebrations center around food. We use the experience of food when catching up with friends, reward our children after a soccer game, or bake a cake for parties. As much as food is a staple in our holiday events, it is no wonder it can be difficult to stay healthy during the holidays with all of the temptations around. This holiday, try taking the focus off of food. Focus on the true meaning of the holiday you are celebrating and less on what you are going to indulge in at the next meal. This may be challenging, but give it a try. You may even have more of an appreciation for the foods you are consuming since it won’t be the highlight of the party.
4. Choose Snacks Wisely
At your holiday gatherings, make sure to choose your snacks wisely – this is a big part of healthy holiday eating. I’m guessing many of us don’t snack the way we do during the holidays, nor do we eat as large of meals. One of the best things you can do for your health is avoid grazing all day. If you have snacks around you, try to pick the best option. Choose to snack on vegetables and fruits. Filling your plate with these colorful foods will help you avoid higher calorie, fat, and carbohydrate options. You will also get a better bang for your buck when it comes to the nutrition world, since these snacks are filled with vital nutrients and lower in calories. Oh, and I guarantee you will not feel too stuffed for dinner!
5. Don’t Drink Your Calories
During the holidays, there are many festive drinks at get-togethers. A few that come to mind include eggnog, champagne, hot cocoa, punch, and apple cider. These drinks are fun to indulge in, but remember they contain calories and often a great deal of sugar. Try your best to set a number of festive drinks you are going to indulge in, this way you can save room for more important calories, like protein and fresh vegetables. And don’t forget about water! Stay hydrated throughout your holiday events – this is not only important for overall health, but it will also help you feeling full and satisfied so you don’t overeat throughout the day.
Holidays are a time to spend celebrating with family and friends. Remember to make the focus less about the food you are indulging in and more about the reason for the holiday itself. Even if you take away one of these five tips to a healthier holiday season, you will have a healthier you coming into the new year. Remember, it is all about setting goals. Make it a goal to be healthier, make one habit change this holiday season, and voilà – you are one step to a healthier you.
Ashley Graven, RD, LD, CPT
Life Time Fitness
Registered & Licensed Dietitian/Weight Loss Coach
Certified Personal Trainer