So, you’ve recovered from your Halloween sugar crash and you’re committed to better eating habits for the holiday season. There’s just one problem: mom’s sweet potato casserole covered in butter and marshmallows… or grandma’s ultra rich pumpkin pie… or all of that leftover Halloween candy! Okay, maybe we’ve got a few problems on our hands here.
Many traditional holiday foods are high in sugar, fat and salt — and the sheer length of the modern holiday season (does it seem to last from Halloween to New Year's?) can exhaust even the best of dietary intentions. Here are a few suggestions for staying health-focused during this time of year.
Cooking & Entertaining
When creating meals for your loved ones, keep in mind that they may share your holiday eating woes. Don’t be afraid to substitute some favorite classes with updated healthful, delicious holiday recipes. You may find yourself creating new faves among your family and friends. A meal prepared from a wide range of delicious, natural, and whole fresh foods is one of the greatest gifts you can give friends and family.
A great starting place for menu planning is to choose recipes that feature seasonal vegetables such as leafy greens, winter squashes and root vegetables. Plan to always serve a green salad and plenty of vegetable and whole grain side dishes with your holiday meals. Speaking of whole grains, try working more of these into your holiday baking. Most recipes will produce great results with half the amount of all-purpose flour replaced with whole wheat or whole wheat pastry flour.
When you’re not deciding the menu, staying on a healthy path can prove more challenging. We’ve got tips for navigating the nutritional landmines of holiday parties.
Eat a healthy, filling snack or small meal before heading out; it's easier to make sensible food and drink choices when you aren’t famished.
Once you’re at the party, think about portion sizes. Choose a smaller plate when you head over to a holiday buffet, and have just a spoon or two or a single slice of each offering. Emphasize vegetables and whole grains on your plate with larger portion sizes, which will help you feel satisfied and boost your nutrient intake.
Also, if asked to share a dish for a holiday meal, party or potluck, make it a healthy one! This way you'll always have at least one great option to fill up on. You can try one of our excellent holiday recipes, or even visit our prepared foods department and look for Health Starts Here-labeled dishes.
Just at Home
Since holiday parties and celebrations tend to derail normal eating habits, too, commit to healthy eating during non-holiday related meals during the season. Base your meals around fruits, vegetables, whole grains and plant-based proteins and avoid processed, salty, sugary and fatty foods. You’ll enjoy splurges more if you know you’re balancing them out with a healthy foundation.
And don’t forget, health is more than just food. Stick to a good exercise plan, and try to add some fun activities like skating, sledding, hiking and walking to your schedule. Take a walk with family after big meals, integrate activity into the party plan, get people moving!
Last but not least, remember to relax, get enough sleep, have some laughs and enjoy the season!
What are your tips for staying healthy during the holidays? We’d love to hear what helps you!