The holiday season is fast approaching. As many people prepare for the big night of celebration by shopping early for presents and planning reunions or vacations, a significant number of the populace fear the occasion because of the possibility of gaining unwanted pounds when attending all the parties and dinners hosted by family and friends.
Statistics show that the average American takes in about 4,500 calories and 229 grams of fat whenever he or she eats a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, and take note - this does not include all the other meals like breakfast, lunch or snacks! Some studies even tell us that an average American gains one to two pounds during the yuletide season and unfortunately, these extra pounds have a great chance to become mainstay in our bodies. When you gain extra weight every year, it can lead to obesity later on.
It's therefore an undeniable fact that many people tend to eat and drink more during the holidays - and because of the weather or lack of motivation - have less chances to burn the calories with exercise. Indeed, a healthy lifestyle is the first thing we drop when the charming appeal of food and drinks lure us during the special occasion. If you are one of those who do not want to be deprived during the yuletide, then you must find some ways to enjoy your favorite foods without packing on the unwanted pounds.
Dietitians say that this task is not that difficult. All you need is careful planning. The following is a list of useful tips to help you achieve your goal.
Be Smart When Shopping for the Holidays
The first thing you need to do is to carefully plan your menu before hitting the supermarket for ingredients. Try to include as much fruits, vegetables, seafood, whole grains, low-fat dairy and lean meats into your menu as possible, and read the food labels to identify which foods are rich in nutrients and contain less sugar, fat and calories.
Get the Party Started with Light Appetizers
In parties, most appetizers are usually loaded with excessive calories. Guests tend to over eat these before the meal, which is tragic especially for those watching their weight. If you are hosting a party, offer light and satisfying appetizers such as whole-grain crackers with reduced-fat cheese, fresh fruit skewers, shrimp cocktails or vegetables with low-fat yogurt dip.
Winter Wonderland Calls for Frozen Foods
Fresh fruits and vegetables are ideal in these instances but if the weather or the price has pushed fruit to the lower end of your priorities, try buying frozen. The American Dietetic Association says frozen fruits and vegetables are usually less costly and can be more nutritious because the produce was picked at its peak ripeness and frozen immediately. Canned goods can also be healthy substitutes for fresh foods but read the nutrition labels first and choose the ones with lesser sugar and sodium.
Keep It Simple
Make your menu simpler and opt for easy-to-make vegetable and fruit dishes instead of heavy and complicated specialties. This way, your guests will fill up on healthy treats, sans the extra calories.
Give Considerations to Special Requests
When planning your menu, take time to ask your guests if they have any preferences or health considerations on food. A cousin may have allergies to poultry meat. Your best friend may be lactose-intolerant or your niece may be a vegan. Make sure that you have a variety of foods on the table to cater to the requests of your guests.
Veer Away from Calories by Swapping Ingredients
Heavy cream, cream cheese, butter, mayonnaise and other rich ingredients surely taste heavenly on your signature dishes, but when the holidays set in and you attend several parties, you cannot afford to eat all these because you will definitely gain weight. To stave off unwanted calories, why not create healthier versions of your favorite holiday dishes? Substitute fat-free yogurt, low-fat milk, light cream cheese and chicken stock for high-fat ingredients and voila! You have shaved the calories from your menu!
Use Low-Calorie Cooking Methods
Low-calorie cooking methods include roasting and grilling. For lesser calories on your holiday foods, grill or roast meat, vegetables, seafood and even fruits to bring out their natural flavors.
Opt for Healthier Desserts
If you cannot live without sweet treats, better opt for the healthy kinds. Fruits are the best options, but if you want something interesting, try chocolate-dipped fruits like strawberries and bananas for a colorful treat. Use low-fat or fat-free dairy for your pies and frozen delights, too.
Choose Healthy Beverages
Serve wine and beer to your guests and pass on cocktails. Opt for low-calorie drinks such as sparkling water, low-calorie punch and diet soda. Alcoholic drinks can increase hunger and make you eat more so veer away from them if you can.
Don’t Dive into the Buffet Table
Before going into a buffet spree, make sure to scan the choices and choose the foods that are simply prepared. Avoid consuming dishes with sauces or those that are fried. Fill your plate with small portions and savor each bite. Eat slowly and chew your food very well. This way, you will feel full just by eating a small amount of food.
Of course, never forget to do your regular exercise to maintain a fit and healthy body even when holiday season is around.