When it comes to the holidays I’m anything but a grinch. I LOVE the holidays (emphasis on love)! But I’m not such a big fan of what it potentially means for my wallet, waistline and stress level. I’m still working on the wallet and stress thing, but the waistline, I think I’ve finally got it under control (I say as I simultaneously picture a plate dripping with warm, buttery baked brie). Here are some of my healthy holiday tips-
1. We’re all guilty of sitting next to the side table holding the bowl of snack mix or socializing next to the table of h’orderves. Don’t do it! Grab your drink, grab a small plate of food and then walk away. If you stay near the food, you’ll only be tempted to mindlessly nibble away (super guilty of this one!).
2. Whether you’re at a gathering, a holiday party or a family dinner, the focus always tends to be on the food, not the fun. Switch that around by doing things such as playing festive games (holiday inspired charades anyone?), singing Christmas Carols, working on holiday crafts, holding a contest (best ugly sweater, best snowman, etc.) or even volunteering
3. There’s a few things I keep in mind when it comes to the food during the holidays. First, don’t show up to a party on an empty stomach. Before you head out, fill up on healthy low-fat snacks, like fruit, veggies, yogurt, or granola bars. Once you get to the gathering, you’ll only need a small plate of treats to satisfy you.
4. If you’re hosting the gathering, you will have a little more control over what foods and drinks are served (i.e. veggie trays, quinoa bites, Greek yogurt dips, baked foods, fruit). If you aren’t hosting, however, volunteer to bring at least one dish, then make it something healthy, so worst case scenario, you know you have at least one thing you can eat.
5. Another thing to keep in mind, if you’re hosting, is how the food is prepared. Our typical Thanksgiving menu includes fresh made cranberry sauce (not canned), sauteed green beans (no casserole with calorie laden additives), mashed potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes (again, no casserole loaded with butter, sugar and marshmallows), and a salad, along with the obvious turkey and fixings. Everything is made from scratch (this is possible if you delegate tasks to several people), and everything is kept pretty close to it’s natural form. We definitely don’t skimp on the amount of food we have, but somehow it’s not quite as bad, knowing how it was prepared.
6. It’s not easy to do, but you’ve got to pick your favorite foods and say no to everything else. Surviving holiday meals is all about a good balance of give and take. If your thing is gravy, skip the dark meat and turkey skin. If your thing is cheese and crackers, skip dessert. If you really have to have that piece of pie, double up on the veggies and cut your potato serving in half.
7. Serve food on smaller plates. When you go back for seconds, you won’t feel quite as guilty because you had a smaller serving to begin with.
8. Stay Active- I know you’re probably thinking “Duh Alyssa! I wasn’t born yesterday!” But have you truly thought of all the ways you can make sure you stay active during the holidays? No? Well, good because I have a list for you. Here it goes- Rake leaves, shovel snow (even volunteer to do your neighbors as a friendly favor to them and an extra cardio boost for you), go for hikes (something my family does every year on Thanksgiving/Christmas is take a hike between dinner and dessert), go sledding, build a snowman, have a snowball fight, get a group together to walk around and sing carols (FYI, this doesn’t have to be outside…I used to organize a group that would go around to different nursing homes), do the dishes by hand (this one can be a bit exhausting after lots of cooking, but it can be done), perform simple exercises while cooking (i.e. lunge, don’t walk across the kitchen and do a set of curls with cans before opening them), play/run around with younger family members (they’re always so active!), and of course, don’t forget, all that holiday shopping counts as cardio (yes, Mr. RC it does!).
I’d love to know, what do you do to stay healthy during the holidays?