As the holiday season approaches, we look forward to the festivities, fun and lots of food! With culinary temptations abound, it's not surprising many people report several pounds of weight gain during the holiday season. Keep up with your healthy habits even during the holidays and practice smart strategies for staying fit this season. Here are some tips to help you stay healthy this holiday season.
Eat several small meals instead of one large one
As hard as you try, it may be extremely difficult to forgo your favorite fare. Instead, eat several small, lighter meals which will help keep you from overeating and help keep your metabolism elevated. To manage your appetite, snack on foods with a high water content like broth based soups, fruits and vegetables.
It takes 20 minutes for our brains to register fullness, so the slower you eat, the fewer calories you will consume. Make it your goal to finish last when it comes to eating!
Choose nutritionally-dense foods, not calorie dense
Some holiday favorites are actually quite nutritious! Pumpkin, cranberries, turkey and sweet potatoes are just some holiday staples that pack a powerful punch when it comes to nutrition. Pumpkin is an excellent source of iron and beta carotene, and canned pumpkin actually contains 15 times more beta carotene than fresh. Reduce the fat in fall favorite pumpkin pie by using egg substitute and evaporated skim milk. Cranberries contain important antioxidants that can help prevent arterial disease while sweet potatoes are high in beta carotene, vitamins C, E and iron. A four-ounce sweet potato is also low in calories, with just over 140 each. Finally, turkey is a lean source of protein and contains selenium and zinc, which promote healthy nerves and immune system health. Just be sure to remove the skin and baste in fat-free or reduced fat marinades.
Bring your own healthy dish
If you're not sure about the healthy options available to you at a holiday gathering, offer to bring your own! Vegetable platters, fruit plates, pita and hummus are just some of the healthy dishes you can make. You can snack on these prior to the main meal, and have smaller servings of the main courses. Try using some of the season's most flavorful produce! Check out this seasonal produce guide to help you choose wisely.
While the holidays are the most wonderful time of the year, they don't have to derail your health goals. Take the opportunity to enjoy healthier versions of your holiday favorites and get a head start on your goals for the new year!