The holiday season is upon us. A time for friends, family, festivities, and above all...food. Lots of it. Is it possible to eat healthy during the holidays? YES! Here are some helpful tips to think about while party hopping this holiday season.
If you are cooking a dish, or even a whole feast, for guests, swap some unhealthy ingredients for healthier options. We promise your dishes will stay taste delicious, and some guests may not even know you made the swaps! Some examples include:
Low-sodium vegetable broth instead of butter or margarine in mashed potatoes.
Applesauce can be a substitute for butter, margarine, and even oils. Try it out the next time you're making muffins or quick breads like banana bread. Try less than the recipe calls for at first though, too much can change the texture of your dish.
Low-fat or fat-free yogurt can replace mayo or sour cream which are much higher in fat content. Much of the time this can be used in homemade sauces.
That green bean casserole with fried onions on top? Try sliced almonds instead for a heart-healthy topping!
If you know you are going to a party where there will be lots of food, there are a couple tips for the day to follow:
Eat fewer or smaller meals that day leading up to the party. This will allow you more calories to consume at the party meal. But that doesn't mean you should head straight for the marshmallow sweet potatoes...
Pick the healthier options that are available to you. For example, grab large portions of any salads made or lean proteins like chicken and turkey. Try to have less of the higher fat and sugar options like gravy, desserts, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, etc.
Stop eating when you are full! Just because there is a buffet does not mean you have to eat everything in sight. Enjoy the conversation, take your time eating, and listen to your body's cues for when to stop.
Try not to socialize next to the desserts. This will inherently lead to subconscious eating of the sweets.
Keep the alcohol to a minimum. Reach for the red wine if there is some, as that is one of the healthier options. Consume the alcohol after dinner, as this will lead to better digestion. Alcohol can actually slow down the digestive process, so having a glass or 2 of wine before filling your belly may lead to some indigestion. Furthermore, aim to have a glass of water between alcoholic beverages to improve hydration.
It is completely possible to enjoy time with loved ones while still practicing healthy habits. We are by no means saying pack your own food every time you go to a party to make sure you have healthy options, that would be a bit drastic and potentially disrespectful to the cooks. Simply practice moderation and wise choices and your holidays will be festive, delicious, and maybe healthier than previous years.
Cara J Barton, OTR/L, PN1, CF-L1
Braeden Yacobucci, RDN/RD, LD, CF-OL1