It’s possible to make healthy choices and still enjoy the holidays. Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter has some useful suggestions.
Celebrations often lead to overindulgence, unhealthy choices, and unwanted weight gain. Here are some tips for keeping holiday meals happy and healthy:
Make new traditions…and update the old: Many holiday dishes are high in added sugars or salt. Consider making new traditions: try roasted string beans with slivered almonds in place of creamy string bean casserole, for example. Or look for recipes that substitute ingredients to “lighten” traditional dishes.
Watch portions: Occasional treats and comfort foods are part of the joy of eating—not a reason to feel guilty—but enjoy portions of refined starch-, sugar-, or salt-rich family favorites in moderation.
Start by covering half the plate with vegetables and fruits. An attractive array of dishes featuring the season’s bright, flavorful produce may encourage guests to load up on veggies. Research shows the sight of appealing food is a powerful motivator for the brain.
Make choices: When faced with a holiday buffet, the breakroom snack table, or a large line-up of delectable desserts, consider carefully and make choices before you fill your plate. Is there a special dish or dessert you look forward to every year? Savor a small serving of that one. Not sure if there will be healthy options? Bring your own. A fresh fruit salad or a vegetable plate with dip are always appreciated. Plan to skip or limit alcoholic beverages, which have little nutritional value, are loaded with calories, and may increase overeating.
Be active: Physical activity may help relieve holiday stress. Intentionally build in opportunities to be physically active. Use the hotel gym, squeeze a quick walk into a busy day, play with kids, and consider adding a new holiday tradition: a family walk before the meal or between dinner and dessert.
Enjoy the company: Family, friends, laughter, gratitude, and the joy of being together are at the heart of the holiday season. Focus on the people in your life, and if the fun and good cheer include a little indulgence, it’s okay to enjoy!