When the festivities begin, people tend to set aside their healthy diet. It’s as if you can’t be part of the merry-making if you don’t eat a lot. And it’s like it’s all right to be fat and unhealthy just because it’s the holidays. None of these are true. Even that popular New Year’s resolution “I’ll diet when the holidays are over” isn’t either.
The average American gains three to five pounds during the holiday season. And it’s not something that can go away overnight. Most of the time, these extra pounds become permanent and they accumulate year after year, every time the yuletide season is here. Eventually, it contributes to obesity that can increase the risk of various health problems like heart disease, hypertension and diabetes.
Sure, nobody wants to be on a strict diet while everyone else is merrymaking. Who said you need to be? Below are some holiday-friendly diet tips that will enable you to eat healthy and happy from Halloween to New Year’s Day.
Going to the grocery store unplanned is a disaster in the making. Before you go, plan your menu and make the grocery shopping list. Choose main course dishes that focus on seafood, lean meat and vegetables. Be sure to include lots of fruits, whole grain products and low-fat dairy as well.
Always consult the nutrition label before putting any product into your shopping cart. Stay away from those that are high in fat, calories, sodium and sugar. Shave even more calories by avoiding too much cheese, cream sauce, gravy, butter, nuts and whipped cream.
Make the Swap
Another practical technique to keep in mind when planning the menu is to always substitute ingredients with their healthier versions. Use fat-free yogurt instead of ice cream in that delectable dessert you’re planning to make. Substitute creamy sauce with tomato-based or olive-oil based sauce for the pasta. Forget about butter and other fatty sandwich spreads and opt for almond butter or applesauce instead. And remember, if there’s a reduced-fat brand, always go for that one.
Cook it Right
Sometimes, it’s not just about the food but the way you prepare it as well. Even lean meat, chicken or seafood can be unhealthy if you soak it deep into saturated fats like coconut or palm oil. What’s the better way to cook your meat? Of course, grill or roast it! It’s not only healthier, it also tastes much better.
That’s because these cooking styles bring out the natural flavor in foods. You can also roast and grill vegetables like potatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers and onions. In fact, you’d love to include healthy kabobs in your dishes. These are grilled skewers of lean meat and vegetables like those mentioned above. These are always a great hit that everyone would love.
Serve Decadent but Healthy Desserts
Desserts have become synonymous to unhealthy. They shouldn’t be. You can make desserts that are heavenly and at the same time good for your health. For a luscious finale, have fruits on stick that comes with a dark chocolate dip. Dark chocolate is richer in antioxidants and lower in calories compared to milk chocolate.
Now, if you’re thinking of baking pies or other pastries, use oats in place of white flour, make fruits as the central ingredient, substitute sugar with honey and top it with fat-free whipped cream.
Eat Before You Go
Attending a party? It’s a good habit to eat a little protein or fiber just before leaving the house. A piece of fruit, scoops of yogurt or toasted bread with fruit puree on top are just some wonderful ideas to consider. When you make “snack before you party” a habit, you’ll find yourself devouring less of the party foods at your friend’s or relative’s house.
Scan the Buffet
At the party organized by another person, you don’t have control over how dishes are cooked or what ingredients are included. Because of that, you’ll have to do a thorough scan of the buffet table before you pick your choice. Fill your plate with foods that are prepared simply. Avoid those with sauces and those that are fried. Wait at least a half hour before you go back for a second round. For the second round, get more vegetables and other light items.
Don’t be stuck in one place when it’s the holiday season. Go out there and be active. If you’re going to organize parties for your family or friends, be sure to incorporate a physical activity into it like dancing, parlor games or even some indoor sports like Wii bowling. If you’re going shopping, do it the traditional way - go to the mall and squeeze through the crowds. It’s a little exhausting but it’s worth the calorie burn. Do everything you can just so you won’t store those calories that you’ve taken in.
Keep these tips in mind so you can survive the holidays without ruining your waistline. Remember too that the real essence of these festivities is to get together with family and friends and not to devour on every food in sight.