mindful eating

The holidays are almost here! How will you stay sane and healthy(ish) through it all?

It can be very easy to overeat at holiday events and gatherings. And even with the pandemic limiting in-person get-togethers, many of us tend to view the holidays as a time to submit to cravings and indulgences.

It’s a long season, starting with Thanksgiving pies and continuing through the new year. So here are a few tips to watch your health without dieting or depriving yourself:

Weigh yourself weekly. It’s not about obsessing over the number on the scale, but weighing regularly will keep you conscious of your weight so that you don’t get scale shock when January 1st rolls around.

Exercise. Move more or at least keep up your usual regimen. Don’t let the holidays become an excuse for laziness. Exercise will not only help keep the belly away but will help you manage holiday stress.

Limit alcohol consumption. Alcohol increases our blood sugar level, which causes us to pack on the pounds. It also increases the likeliness of overindulging and overeating unhealthy foods.

Plan your sleep. If you plan on staying out late, try to fit in a nap or a down day. Adequate sleep helps manage hormones and helps keep those added pounds and stressors at bay.

Drink water. We often mistake hunger for thirst. Stay hydrated, especially before heading to a party. Avoid sugary beverages that actually precipitate additional sugar cravings and make those holiday cookies even harder to resist.

HEALTHIFY THAT RECIPE!

Here are some recommended recipe modifications from Jessica, designed to minimize caloric intake while allowing you to still enjoy your holiday faves. Any major change should be trial-run before the big event to avoid first-time disasters.

Make gravy from a low-fat broth instead of using the drippings from poultry or a roast. Refrigerate the gravy to harden the fat and then skim it off the top.

Use less bread and more onions, garlic, celery and vegetables in your stuffing. If your stuffing recipe calls for meat, replace half the meat with mushrooms, dried cranberries, raisins, or chopped dried apricots. Moisten with a low-fat broth.

Remove skin and any visible fat from meat and poultry before serving. Bake instead of fry.

Cook fresh green beans with chunks of potatoes instead of cream soup. Top with almonds instead of fried onion rings.

Add more veggies to your side dishes. Salads and leafy dark greens can be super delish, filling and nutritious.

Use skim milk, chicken broth, garlic or garlic powder, and Parmesan cheese instead of whole milk and butter in mashed potatoes.

For healthy holiday nog, blend together four bananas, 1-1/2 cups skim milk or nut milk, 1-1/2 cups plain nonfat yogurt, and 1/4 teaspoon rum extract. Puree until smooth and top with nutmeg.

Substitute two egg whites for each whole egg in baked dessert recipes. Replace heavy cream with evaporated skim milk in cheesecakes and cream pies. Top cakes with fresh fruit or a sprinkle of powdered sugar instead of frosting.

Don’t GO hungry. Filling up on protein or healthy fats before heading out to a holiday gathering will make you less likely to overindulge. Enjoy an apple with peanut or almond butter, a protein shake, a hard-boiled egg, or a slice of whole grain toast with avocado or hummus.

Eat mindfully. It’s so easy to hang around the buffet table and eat continually. So get a small plate, add a few items and then leave the food area so you aren’t tempted to keep digging in. Savor each bite. Chew slowly. Put down your fork and converse with the people around you. You’ll end up more satisfied and less likely to go for seconds, thirds, fourths…

At the same time, it’s the holidays so now is not the time to restrict. Consider what your top favorite holiday foods are, and go ahead and enjoy them. In moderation, of course!

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