In with the holiday season comes the holiday dishes and treats. Traditionally, the dishes were heavier because the work was harder in the winter – longer hours outside necessitated hand pies stuffed with cream, potato and veggie, and meat goodness. The majority of Americans aren’t performing hard labor dusk to dawn, but are commuting or sitting most of the day. This isn’t to say that enjoying holiday foods shouldn’t be done. The holiday time is a time to enjoy the cookies and great-grandma’s casserole. It is also the time for moderation and balance. An extra 200 calories a day could add up to a couple of pounds added in a month. Keeping a few healthy habits in mind over the holiday period will allow you
When you are eating meals, make sure to “budget” your plate with a mix of fresh vegetables and fruit along with the casserole and a roll. Keep it colorful with whole foods in addition to the more prepared foods.
Have fresh fruit and vegetables on hand. Having “quick” snacks like cookies and chips are easy to reach because they are there and ready. If you have vegetables like baby carrots, grape tomatoes, and snack peppers on hand, you are always ready for a veggie fix. Get cucumbers, celery clean, cut, and ready for any snack to go. Prepare sliced apples, pears, nectarines, or whatever is seasonally available every couple of days so they are ready to grab.
Except for mealtime, don’t sit with food in front of you. It is easy to bring over a bag of chips to hang out with the family while watching a movie. Sitting down with food can lead to mindless eating. If you are sitting down for family movie time, consider portioned foods. Scoop out a serving size of the chips. Or swap the chips for a handful of nuts for a more filling snack. Edamame is a delicious veggie-packed with folate, iron, and magnesium – steam it over boiling water and snack on it fresh from its shells.
If chips and dip are your jam, try these fun and easy swaps. Sliced bell peppers with guacamole provide vitamins that aren’t in chips, and the healthy fat and fiber in guacamole are filling. Hummus and celery provide the fiber that chips definitely do not offer. Cucumbers are another great veggie swap for chips. Apples and peanut butter are a great swap if you are looking for fruit, but make sure to limit the peanut butter to serving size.
Looking for a sweet and creamy snack. Mix some plain, full-fat Greek yogurt with mixed berries or frozen fruit for a delicious and filling parfait. The berries are a great source of antioxidants and yogurt is a great source of calcium, potassium, and protein which is filling. You can also swap the yogurt for cream cheese.
Have the cookie on the sweets table, but stick to one or two. If you are still looking for sweets, try dark chocolate-covered almonds. Both dark chocolate and almonds are high in magnesium. Dark chocolate contains flavanols which are thought to lower blood pressure while reducing the risk of heart disease. Almonds contain monosaturated fats which are heart-healthy and can reduce appetite.
Hard-boiled eggs get a bad wrap for the smell. They are perfectly proportioned snacks to go packing protein and vitamin K and B12 in their to-go size. Moderate egg intake does not increase your risk for heart disease.
Looking for a sweet kick- look no further than fried fruits like cherries or apricots. Watch to ensure there is no added sugar in the dried fruit which can add in extra calories. Dried unsweetened coconut is a favorite for its filling snack, and is easy as a snack on the go or while doing a game night with the family.
Marinated vegetables are a great addition to a charcuterie board of plates. Add marinated artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes, or even olives for a pack of flavor in addition to the healthy properties of the fiber.
The bottom line is eating in moderation. Have the pie, and the veggies too. Having the holiday casserole is wonderful, and the holidays are about making those memories with your friends and family. Making healthy eating a daily habit and choice will keep you eating happy and healthy all through the year.