A celebration of Mexican history and culture, Cinco de Mayo is a favorite holiday in the United States and Mexico. It's also become a day of feasting and toasting -- not always the healthiest way to celebrate.
Thankfully for you, we have some tips for your Cinco de Mayo celebration tonight that can help you enjoy all this day has to offer while staying on track.
Tip No. 1: Make It Yourself
Going out to eat is a popular way to celebrate this holiday, but preparing your own food is always the best way to control what goes into your meals like preservatives, pesticides and extra fat. Ask each of your friends to make a dish and have a potluck celebration. Shop for plenty of fresh and organic vegetables and pay for quality cuts of meat, if you're using them.
Tip No. 2: Go for Fiber
Fiber is a essential tool for any holiday celebration that normally involves overindulgence. Filling up on fiber, either through a lunch rich in whole grains or with supplements, will help you feel full longer and prevent overeating at parties. Even eating an apple is a great way to get fiber before heading to a celebration. Once you get there, go for more substantial foods that will sustain your energy.
Tip No. 3: Choose Quality Proteins
Be smart about the proteins you use to cook with. Choose lean cuts of beef, fish like salmon that is rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids or shrimp. Roasting, grilling and baking can help you control the amount of calories as well. Instead of meat, you can choose tofu or mushrooms (like in the picture above) for a hearty and satisfying meal with less fat and calories.
Tip No. 4: Load Up On Veggies
Bulk out your meals with plenty of fresh vegetables (as well as fruits) for vitamins and minerals. When prepping toppings for tacos or making a salad, choose cabbage or baby spinach instead of lettuce. Put out cucumbers (with the skin on) and sliced bell peppers instead of chips for dips like guacamole, which is also a great source of essential fatty acids.
Tip No. 5: Limit Dairy
Cheese adds delicious flavor to many Mexican dishes, but going to fat-free varieties may mean using more, negating the choice. If you're going to use dairy, go for varieties with a bolder flavor so you use less. A tasty substitute for cheese is brewer's yeast (also known as nutritional yeast). This yeast is yellow in color, has a flavor similar to cheese and provides energizing B vitamins.
Tip No. 6: Drink Lighter
Margaritas, mojitos -- whatever your beverage of choice, keep in mind you're potentially drinking hundreds of calories. Go for fresh fruit and fruit juices or herbs instead of packaged mixers. Another option is sparkling water instead of sugary soda. Wine is also a better option than liquor -- try to limit yourself to two drinks. Better yet? Make a mocktail without alcohol.
Tip No. 7: Spice Things Up
One of the healthiest things about Mexican cooking is the use of chilies. Chili peppers contain capsaicin, the active compound that makes them spicy. Capsaicin is also known to ignite the metabolism, helping you burn more calories. Add some heat to your Cinco de Mayo recipes and the rest of your cooking to help manage your weight.
Tip No. 8: Squeeze In Some Exercise
If you're weren't able to get in a workout this morning, try to get some exercise after work before heading out. Walking around your neighborhood or climbing stairs for 30 minutes is perfect to get your heart rate up and your metabolism going. If your celebration is close by, walk there!
Tip No. 9: Hydrate Properly
Keeping properly hydrated is essential whether your consume alcohol or not. Alcohol is extremely dehydrating and everyone knows not drinking water leads to a morning of pain. Another reason to drink plenty of water is sodium -- if you go to a friend's house or restaurant to eat, you'll have no idea how much salt is in your food. Excess sodium causes bloating as well as increased blood pressure.
Tip No. 10: Get Some Rest
You probably have work in the morning. Don't skip out on the sleep -- make sure to get between seven and nine hours to feel your best tomorrow. Turn off your cell phone and/or television and unwind. Herbal supplements like valerian root and passionflower can help you get the rest you need.
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