With the holidays right around the corner let’s talk about how to get the most out of your recipe traditions without compromising your health. There are many ways to reduce sugar, excess calories and saturated fat without having to cut out your favorite holiday treats and it’s as simple as making a plan and sticking to it. Try out these top 10 healthy habits to make the most out of the holiday season.
Don’t skip meals: Healthy snacking can be beneficial when fueling your body wisely every 2-4 hours. Eating more during the holidays doesn’t mean you should skip meals to compromise for the additional calories you may be consuming. Skipping meals to save or reduce your calorie intake won’t do you or your body any favors- it can do the opposite. Skipping meals might turn into increased consumption of calories at the next meal and backfire on your plan to save calories. Instead of restricting your food consumption, be mindful of the timing of your meals and the proportions in which you are eating them. Eating before the big gathering will decrease your cravings and help avoid overeating.
Mindfully Indulge: In addition to satisfying your cravings by eating regularly throughout the day, you should be intentional about portions on your plate. As we all know Thanksgiving is the time to try a little bit of everything, stuff a little more, and appreciate the feast that comes with the holiday season. However, eat with the intention of satisfaction rather than indulgence. Regardless of what you’re eating, stick to smaller portions and savor your dish. Try filling your plate with a generous amount of veggies and fruit before loading up on unhealthy carbs and sugar. I am not saying avoid carbs or sugar because after all, it’s the holiday so it is completely fine to indulge! Just be mindful of the portions of the foods you are putting onto your plate and remember to eat until you’re satisfied, not stuffed.
Simple Swaps: There are so many options when it comes to incorporating health into the sweetest/ richest foods. Whether it’s protein, carbs, dessert, etc… here are a few substitutions to consider to make your holiday gathering a little more health-conscious.
- Mayo and Sour cream- Greek Yogurt
- Heavy cream- Coconut milk
- Semi-sweet chocolate chips- Dark chocolate or cocoa (insert ingredient warning)
- Vegetable oil- Coconut or olive oil
- Flour- Almond flour, oat flour, or coconut flour (making homemade oat flour is as easy as blending rolled oats for about 20 seconds to 1 minute until the oats turn into a fine flour)
Limit sugary beverages: Think before you drink and watch out for these ingredients that are common in sugary beverages and/or soda. Ingredients such as dextrose, high-fructose corn syrup, and maltose can cause inflammation and leave you feeling dehydrated and bloated. Try swapping out the usual soda or sweet tea for a healthier option. When in doubt stay hydrated with water but if you’re feeling something with a little more flavor go for these simple swaps instead.
Dress your Food Sparingly: I am all for the gravy, sauces, dressings, and traditional additions to holiday dishes so don’t get me wrong when I say use them sparingly. You can have the additions but check out some simple swaps to get the best of both (health and taste). You can always opt-out of the toppings or put them on the side rather than lather up your plate.
Clean Sauce Options:
Stay active: Holidays are a great time to kick back, relax, and rest. Being active still falls along the lines of being rested and relaxed- I am not saying you have to go out and run a 5k or exhaust yourself to move. It can be as short n sweet as a brisk walk or fun family activity outside.
Listen to your body: Mindful indulgence and intuitive eating are simple solutions to getting in tune with your body. Don’t restrict yourself from foods you love. Instead, have your favorite foods and avoid wasting room on your plate with foods you might not enjoy as much. Instead of having everything at once and stuffing yourself full, try spreading leftovers throughout the week and mindfully indulge.
Intuitive Eating: I love a buffet-style arrangement, however, I give into temptation when it comes to eating just because the food is there, not necessarily because I am hungry. My tendency to overeat was shown in my DNA results in which my body’s ability to signal when it is full is slightly delayed. With a moderate to high risk of overeating, there is a greater chance of eating past satisfaction and not allowing your food to settle between meals.
Limit Grazing: There is nothing wrong with indulging and enjoying your favorite appetizers, meals, and desserts, but try to limit grazing throughout the day. Eat when you’re hungry and know that just because the food is accessible doesn’t mean you have to eat it. Frequent snacking can help minimize the urge to graze and reduce overeating at meals.
Recovery and rest: Sometimes Holidays can feel chaotic and draining but other times they give you more time to rest. Take advantage of the days off and moments when your body and mind can rest. Recovery doesn’t have to be earned and it most certainly doesn’t have to be a reward after intense workouts. Recovery is essential for your body regardless of what your day looks like, how you’re eating, or how much you’re moving. Especially if you’re traveling for the holidays, be mindful of how your body feels and allow yourself the time to find rest. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep if possible.
Health is always something to be mindful of not just during the holidays. Remember to appreciate all that your body does for you and be mindful of the ways you can serve your body best during the season of celebration and gratitude. Happy Thanksgiving and happy holidays!
List of recipes and smart swaps to try out this Thanksgiving:
Be on the lookout for healthy recopies to try on Instagram @ericabeine