Everything that's NOT healthy jumps to mind when thinking of Christmas! Chocolate chip cookies, decadent hot chocolate, eggnog, apple pie, roasted potatoes, glazed carrots, creamy soup, and the list goes on.
After a year's hard work, Christmas is a time for indulgence, enjoyment, and well-deserved calories! Right?!
But come January, you may resent yourself for indulging a little bit too much! That extra slice of apple pie or second glass of eggnog may have ruined your weight loss or healthy eating efforts you worked so hard at during the year.
Let it be different this Christmas. Avoid having to start all over again in the new year and setting unrealistic weight loss resolutions.
By making a few different choices, adjustments, and conscious decisions, you can avoid packing on the pounds during the holidays.
Below are 12 easy tips and changes to make healthier food choices this holiday season.
12 Ways to eat healthier during the holidays
1. Homemade is always healthier
Homemade food contains less saturated fat, sodium, sugar, and preservatives than store-bought meals and packaged foods.
When you cook meals yourself, you know exactly what and how much goes into it. It may take some time to prepare, but your body will thank you later!
2. Include more fiber in your meals
Fiber fills you up and keeps you satiated for longer. Studies have shown that the more fiber you eat, the fewer calories you consume.
Fiber is also great for getting your gut working optimally. Good fiber sources include fruits, veggies, legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.
3. It's all about portion control
Say no to seconds and thirds. Yes, it may be so delicious that you cannot resist an extra serving! But how stuffed or guilty will you feel afterward? Ask yourself if the extra calories are worth it.
Use smaller dish spoons and plates to help you dish less and your fist as a healthy portion indicator. Here is a good portion size guideline.
4. Bulk up with veggies
When dishing up, fill your plate with loads of veggies and eat them first! They will fill you up, contribute to your fiber intake, and are lower in calories than other food groups.
Great veggie options include spinach, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, green peas, and sweet potato. Without all the extra cream, butter, and sugar! So dish wisely ;-)
5. Prepare before you go out
Going out for a cocktail party or having a big Christmas dinner? Eat a light, healthy snack, and drink plenty of water before you go. This way, you won't be famished when arriving, reaching for unhealthy snacks, or going overboard with the portions.
Sliced apples with peanut butter or a rice cake with cottage cheese, sliced bananas, and a drizzle of honey are great options.
6. Everything looks delicious
How do you choose?? We get it; this is a serious problem to have over the holidays ;-)
The solution? Dish a teaspoon or tablespoon of each item and taste them all! Choose 2-3 favorites, and have a second serving of them (not too much!).
7. Is dessert your weak spot?
Scan all the dessert options and choose just one that you know you love and which never disappoints.
After a generous serving of your favorite, you'll feel more satisfied and less inclined to try other dessert options. Well, we hope so!
You could also share two options with someone and get to taste both.
8. Out of sight, out of mind...
Keeping treats, cookies, sweets, and all those yummy temptations out of sight will help you forget and eat less of them.
Few can resist a cookie jar on the counter; it's a magnet of strong force!
9. Like to taste while cooking?
Or licking the bowl after making a cake?
We do too! But this is a very sneaky way of unconsciously consuming extra calories and packing on the pounds.
Trust the recipe (or your gut) and cooking skills! And rinse that bowl immediately :-)
10. Get creative
Finding healthier alternatives and making a few swaps could save you tons of unnecessary calories.
- Use greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise.
- Applesauce or mashed bananas are excellent replacements for butter in baking.
- Bake or steam your food rather than frying and add flavor with spices, herbs, and garlic instead of butter and salt.
- Cauliflower mash can be just as delicious as potato mash.
11. Don't stop moving!
You may be too cold, busy, on vacation, or just too stuffed to want to exercise!
But staying active, even just taking brisk walks, or doing 10-minute bursts of exercises, can help immensely. It keeps the blood flowing, the heart pumping, and the gut going!
12. Stick to your everyday routine
As far as possible! This includes getting enough sleep, eating at your usual times, and doing daily activities and chores you usually do. When you have structure and stick to daily habits, your body knows what to expect and stays in its rhythm.