The holiday season is here, bringing celebrations with friends and family -- and plenty of opportunities to overindulge. By planning well and celebrating in moderation, you can stay healthy during the holidays and get a head start on a healthy new year. Focus on balancing food with physical activity and you can enjoy the holidays and be healthy.
Here are some tips to avoid the 1-2 pound holiday weight gain the National Institutes of Health says is common:
- Eat a healthy snack before you go. This is the golden rule to follow to avoid overeating at holiday celebrations. If you go hungry, you will eat more than you need or had planned on eating.
- Have a plan. Decide what you will eat and how much you can eat before you go. Select foods that fit into this meal plan.
- Make a healthy contribution. Bring your favorite dish to the party. Think about fresh veggies with low-fat dip, a fruit tray or hummus with baked pita chips. And if you can’t find anything else healthy to eat, you know you can treat yourself to your favorite healthy treat!
- Make a conscious decision to eat healthy. While there are some “good” and “bad” foods, more often it comes down to good and bad choices. If there’s something you really want to try, go ahead, but do so in moderation.
- If you’re hosting family or friends, give your guests the gift of good health by offering a variety of low-fat, filling foods. Fresh fruits and vegetables, plain nuts and lean protein can help your guests avoid going overboard. Include non-alcoholic drinks as well, since alcohol is a source of many unnecessary calories.
- Try serving healthy versions of holiday favorites. Lighten up high-fat traditions by using alternate preparation methods or reduced-fat substitutions. Try non-fat or 1 percent milk instead of whole milk or cream, or low-fat cottage cheese or plain yogurt in lieu of cream cheese. If you’re baking, you can often substitute applesauce for half of the fat or oil.
- Support your friends and family members’ efforts to be healthy. Maintain balance by serving plenty of healthful items and be sure children are getting adequate nutrition.
- Finally, be active! Exercise can help relieve holiday stress and help offset any weight gain. If time is of the essence, you can take two brisk walks each day, 10-15 minutes each time. Exercise will also give you an added energy boost so you can enjoy the celebrations at hand.
Be healthy! Happy holidays!