10 Achievable Ways To Make Healthy Holiday Food Choices
Last updated on : November 12 2015
If ever there was a time to test your determination to eat healthy and maintain your feminine proportions it is the holiday season (your bandage bodycon dresses need you). It is not just the turkey that ends up stuffed during family holiday feasts and with good reason. Great food, splendid company, and relaxed conversations with loved ones throughout the day makes the holidays the toughest time of year to keep off the pounds and stick to your regular workout routine and diet.
The holiday season is a time to celebrate with family and friends. Much of the revelry is concentrated upon the food that is served at dinner time for these festive occasions. Most people gain 2 to 5 pounds during the holiday season every year. Over the course of a few years, these pounds add up leading to unhealthy weight and contribute to negative body images.
However, there are ways to enjoy the holiday season thoroughly without experiencing dreaded holiday weight gain and regret for the additional pounds. Whether your family holiday meals follow all-American, Latino, Jewish, or other traditions, there are a few staples that are always served during holiday feasts, office gatherings, and other festive get togethers.
From heavy eggnogs and pecan pie to roasted and stuffed turkey and honey-baked ham – ‘tis the season to gorge on time honored festive delicacies with your family and friends. Yet it is also the season that requires a bit of strategy and alternatives for more healthy eating to protect the feminine proportions you love alongside your self esteem. As always we're committed to giving you strategy and tips for making holiday dinners more sensible - to remain fierce, fabulous, and kewl all year long.
1. Finger Foods Are Not Your Friends
Holiday office cocktail parties and home get-togethers would not be considered complete without a host of finger foods such as fried canapés, mini quiches, and cheese sticks with creamy dips.
However, chips and fried finger foods are sure-shot pound-packers. Finger foods are particularly to blame for the added weight because they look innocuous in size and pass under your diet radar easily. For example, a single serving of cheese and 5 crackers means consuming more than 300 calories and 16 grams of fat. Instead of dipping into the cheese-and-cracker duo, serve and eat an equally decadent shrimp cocktail (50 calories and negligible fat in a serving of 5 shrimps in cocktail sauce).
When it comes to appetizers, it is also a good idea to load up on the raw vegetables that are being served. Other healthy food choices include fresh fruit, some nuts, vegetable platters with a hummus dip, etc.
If you just cannot do without your favorite finger foods, eat them in moderation. Remember to go easy on the creamy dips and opt for healthier yogurt dips, guacamole, and salsas instead. Avocados are full of healthy fats, fiber, vitamin A and C, etc. Eating avocados makes your skin glow, strengthens your hair, and even reduces wrinkles.
Bottom Line: One dietary survey found that people who ate avocados had a much higher nutrient intake and had a lower risk of metabolic syndrome. - AuthorityNutrition.com
Load up on the healthier finger foods and you are still able to participate in the festivities but opt out of the extra calories and carbs.
2. Enjoy Turkey Differently
Stuffed dark turkey meat covered in oodles of gravy is another holiday special that packs a high fat content. During the holidays family and friends gather around an 8 pounder and enjoy conversation and laughs.
Turkey is a tasty holiday meat, however, dark meats such as turkey legs, thighs, and wings contains more than 70 additional calories and about 3 times the fat when compared to plain skinless white turkey meat such as the turkey breast. Ditch the skin, and load your plate with white turkey breast meat and just a dab of gravy for flavor.
Two experts recommended skipping the skin, if you’re watching calories. Skin adds 35 calories to a typical 3.5-ounce serving, says Harriette R. Mogul, MD, MPH, associate professor of clinical medicine at New York Medical College. And sans skin, turkey’s low in saturated fat, says Kylene Bogden, registered dietitian at Cleveland Clinic. - Is Turkey Actually Good for You - Time.com
3. Pass On the Honey-glazed Ham
Before it is cured with salt and drenched in sugar, ham is a great lean-meat option that is rich in vitamins and protein. However, the addition of all the salt and sugar make honey-glazed ham a pound packer without remorse.
Technically, a glaze is a thick sugar coating (think doughnut). I make my own sweet, though sugar-free, glaze with antioxidant-rich pomegranate juice and calorie-free stevia, then thicken it with arrowroot. - For Healthier Holiday Try Christmas Pork Not Ham - AnnArbour.com
As an alternative to honey-glazed ham, opt for a healthier glaze made of mustard and jam such as blackberry or cranberry sauce. Your other realistic option is to ditch the ham completely and choose a healthier food choice by opting to eat turkey, beef, and sirloin instead.
4. Potatoes: Candied, Stuffed, or Mashed?
Drenched in butter, heavy whipping cream and salt, mashed and stuffed potatoes are a holiday staple just as much as as candied yams. Potatoes are rich in fiber, flavonoids (cancer fighters), and quercetin (immunity). However, these sides add a whopping 400 calories to your meal in one go with the addition of all the butter and fat.
When choosing sides to eat with dinner, a baked potato with butter isn't necessarily the most nutritious option. While baking is one of the healthier ways to cook a potato, and baked potatoes do provide some essential vitamins and minerals, they tend to be higher in calories than many other vegetables and the butter adds a lot of fat, including unhealthy saturated fat, without significantly increasing the vitamin and mineral content. - Nutrient Facts For A Baked Potato With Butter - HealthyEating.sfgate.com
Spiced with cinnamon, mashed sweet potatoes, and baked sweet potato fries and rounds are perfect side-dishes that taste great and will not add to your weight woes.
5. Cranberry Sauce Isn't Wise
This is a holiday staple that you really should steer clear of. While cranberries are healthy fruits, with plenty of dietary fiber, and vitamins C, E, and K, canned cranberry sauce serves up 105g of sugar, high amounts of AHA, and hundreds of calories. You can bid adieu to the health benefits of eating cranberries if you choose the canned varieties.
Cranberries are really good for you, but they are not naturally sweet. Consequently, all the cranberry products you purchase will have added sugar. For instance, 100 grams of fresh cranberries contain only 46 calories, while 100 grams of cranberry sauce has 151 calories. The extra 100 calories adds up to about 6 teaspoons of sugar. - Are canned cranberries, like the kind used on turkey, bad for you, fat wise? - DrGourmet.com
Instead of opting for store-bought cranberry sauce that is made with sugar, corn syrup, and additional sweeteners and preservatives make your own cranberry relish at home. Most recipes call for a larger amounts of sugar than necessarily needed, so feel free to cut down on the sugar or opt for sugar substitutes such as stevia or Splenda.
6. The Dreadful Green Beans Casserole
A green bean casserole sounds like a healthy, green choice of food during the holidays but often is best to steer clear. Green beans casserole uses full-fat cream of mushroom soup and French-fried onions. These casseroles are high in calories and fat.
It's pretty easy to make a healthier green bean casserole! First, use fresh veggies that are not overcooked. Second, opt for organic or all-natural brands of soup and fried onions to keep some of the processed ingredients out. Third, swap out the whole milk or cream for skim milk. - Shape.com
As an alternative to this traditional pound-packer, serve steamed fresh green beans, or grilled asparagus spears. If you are going to visit guests outside of your home nibble on vegetables prior to arriving to help control your appetite and reduce your cravings for those high-calorie foods.
7. Eggnog Takes the Cake (literally)
Did you know that the holiday favorite, eggnog, contains more than 250 calories. It provides more than half your daily saturated fat recommended dose in just one glass.
Of course, there are other good reasons why we don’t tip back eggnog year-round. Sure, nobody’s reaching for a nice cup of something custardy on a hot day, but it’s not very good for you at all. A relatively small four-ounce cup of store-bought eggnog boasts a whopping 170 calories (half of them from fat), nearly 10 grams of fat, and over 70 mg of cholesterol. (If you’re keeping score at home, that’s around a quarter of your recommended daily intake of cholesterol.) - Way More You Ever Wanted To Know About Eggnog - MentalFloss.com
Instead of choosing glass after glass of eggnog (whether warm, spiked, or not) switch to hot apple cider. Other than being a great source of healthy antioxidants, apple cider also reduces your caloric intake. If you are still craving the taste of eggnog, make your own eggnog using egg substitutes, fat-free milk, and sugar alternatives instead.
We realize that saying no to holiday classics is always easier said than done. So if you must have a sip of eggnog be sure to ensure it is just that - a sip. Drink in moderation. Switch to low calorie alternative inbetween such as club soda, wine spritzers, or water.
8. Pecan Pie vs. Pumpkin Pie
It pains me to report that traditionally served pecan pie packs a whopping 800 calories per slice. A realistic alternative to the time honored dish is a slice of pumpkin pie.
Pecan pie is traditionally made with a good amount corn syrup and/or brown sugar, which only contributes sugar and calories. Once again, your crust can be a big source of fat, especially artery-clogging saturated fat. Although pecans have many healthy attributes, more doesn’t mean it’s healthier. - Which Is Healthier Pumpkin or Pecan Pie? - Blog.Foodnetwork.com
While a slice of pumpkin pie still packs in 300 calories, it also offers plenty of vitamin A, iron, and calcium. Your hips will thank you for not loading up on corn syrup, sugar, and butter.
If you just cannot do without pecan pie, skip eating the fatty crust. This one step helps reduce your caloric intake by 100 calories or so.
9. Caramel Apples Are Risky
Not only do they taste great but making caramel apples is often a holiday family entertainment activity or tradition. While they may be fun to make, you cannot negate the fact that the caramel sauce is just pure sugar mixed in with high-fructose corn syrup or butter. Packing well over 320 calories, finding a healthy equivalent for caramel apples is important. Instead of making caramel sauce, consider fat-free varieties of caramel sundae syrups.
10. Some Other Tips for Healthy Holiday Eating
- Enjoy a few guilty pleasures. Acknowledge that eating a little more during the holidays is expected. Plan and enjoy a few holiday treats in year around to help you enjoy the culinary delicacies so that you are less likely to binge-eat on “cheat days”.
- Choose your indulgences. Instead of eating high-calorie food items that are available throughout the year, choose to indulge in items that actually commemorate the joy and unique spirit of the holiday season.
- Manage your portion size. Use smaller plates, serving utensils, and tall, skinny glasses.
- Eating too many salty food items during the holidays may lead to water retention and swelling of your hands and feet. Fret not, there is a simple home remedy to handle this problem. Add a dash of fresh lemon juice to the water you drink to improve its taste and reduce the swelling.
- Don’t skip breakfast. Research shows that eating a healthy breakfast prevents overeating later on in the day and gives your metabolism a jump start.
- The holiday season is a time to let down your hair and enjoy yourself. However, if making healthy food choices is important to you, plan to keep up the exercise and even double up. Ensure that you squeeze in at least a couple of workout sessions during the week. Remind yourself that your house-cleaning efforts and running around for shopping also contributes toward your quota of exercise.
- Chances are that you may overeat during one meal. If this happens, simply ensure that you are going easy on the next meal. The rule of thumb is that if you go overboard by approximately 500 calories every day for a week (over and above your required 3,500 calories), you will gain a pound. One meal is not likely to jeopardize your diet for good, so focus on getting back on track.
- Your brain takes time to process whether or not you are full. So wait at least 10-15 minutes before you choose to eat second servings. It is also a great idea to spend some quality time actually tasting each morsel of food, instead of just gulping it down.
More than anything else, the holiday season is a time to enjoy with family and friends. Focus on socializing and making connections with those around you, while consciously choosing to make healthier food choices is a simple way to protect your feminine proportions and self esteem.
It is my hope that these simple tricks and alternative food choices give you the confidence help to enjoy your holiday feast and still fit into your dazzling dress when you groove at the New Year’s Eve party.
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