It may be the most wonderful time of the year, but it sure can be hard to focus on staying healthy! Here are some tips to enjoy the holidays without bringing unwanted pounds into the New Year.
Make sure you include plenty of veggies and fruits daily. Do a little planning so that you have them in the house and make sure you EAT them. Not only do they have fiber, so they help fill you up, but they are also rich sources of vitamins and minerals.
Think about how you will cook them (or eat them raw) – make it simple. If you are rushed during the holidays, it might not be the time to make labor-intensive dishes. But you can add veggies to many dishes. For instance, pureed carrot, onion, bell pepper, tomato, parsley, and celery will make meatloaf moist without changing the taste. Find ways to include veggies wherever you can. When you prep them, prep enough for several meals. Or buy them already washed and cut, maybe even in bags to toss into the microwave. And don’t forget that frozen is as good as fresh.
If you are invited to holiday parties, bring a healthy dish so you know there will be at least one healthy dish at the party. NEVER go to a party hungry! Snack on those fruits/veggies you have in the house before you go. Don’t skip meals that day but eat light if you want – just make sure you are eating filling foods like whole grains.
Even holiday favorites can be made healthier. You can cut down on sugar by 25% and it will still taste wonderful. You can decrease the fat by substituting applesauce or banana for some of the oil or butter in muffins or cakes. I will share a recipe for tofu pumpkin pie at the end of this Health Tip. I have served it many times and people can’t believe it’s as good as their regular recipe.
BEWARE of alcohol. The more you drink, the lower your inhibitions, the more you might overdo the holiday goodies. And speaking of drinks, plan to limit other drinks, such as eggnog. You can still have them, but look up the calories they contain, then set yourself a budget of liquid calories. If you drink sodas or other drinks with calories, try switching to water instead.
Occupy yourself at parties visiting with the other guests, preferably not while standing near the food areas. Don’t set unreasonable goals (like, “I won’t have any of Aunt Jane’s Christmas cookies.”). Eat the goodies that only come around once a year but talk yourself out of things like chips and dip that you might be able to have anytime. And if Aunt Jane tries to insist you have more of her cookies because she “knows you love them and she baked them just for you,” make sure she sees you eat one. Make a BIG deal about how good they are, etc., then walk away from them. Take one home for tomorrow when there will only be the one so temptation is gone. Don’t deprive yourself. The food is part of the joy of the season.
If you are able, start or maintain an exercise routine. Exercise burns calories but it also helps improve your metabolism when you exercise every day. That exercise might not burn as many calories as you think, so you should search how many calories are in some of the things you might eat or drink and then see how many minutes of activity it takes to burn that many calories.
has that information easily available on their website when you look up a food or drink. You might not walk for 141 minutes to burn up a piece of cake, but you may feel better and less stressed if you exercise. And you may resist the urge for seconds if you see how much it costs in exercise. Remember to think before you eat “Is it worth the calories?”.
Last, but not least, this is a stressful time for most of us, and this year more than most, so develop some stress reduction techniques. In addition to exercise, you might spend time relaxing with a pet, or visiting with a friend on the phone. Or maybe take a relaxing bath, or spend some time reading or doing crafts that you enjoy. You can try meditation (there are apps for that), deep breathing, listening to, or playing music. Keep a journal – maybe of things you are grateful for. If there is something that makes you laugh, whether a movie or friend, laughing helps reduce stress. Limit caffeine. Finish tasks if you can that are stressing you out. Don’t take on more tasks than you have to – practice saying NO.
I hope these tips will help you have a good holiday season this year! And I hope you will try (and enjoy!) this recipe:
Tofu Pumpkin Pie
Preheat oven to 425.
Mix together in food processor:
10 oz LITE silken tofu
16 oz can pumpkin
¾ cup sugar
½ tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ginger
¼ tsp cloves
Pour into unbaked pie shell.
Bake at 425 for 15 minutes.
Lower heat to 350 & bake for 40 minutes.
Nutritional info (filling only): 107 kcals for 1/8 of pie. Compare w/218 kcals for regular pumpkin pie. This one has 4 gm of fiber & no saturated fat or cholesterol – except in the crust.
If you have any questions about
being healthy during the holidays please log into your account and send
us your question. We are here to help.
Sydney Rephan, RD, LD