The holidays are coming and the gift no one wants are those extra pounds associated with holiday eating.
On average, Americans gain 1 to 2 pounds over the holidays. Fortunately, there are several ways to avoid the dreaded holiday weight gain while also enjoying the holidays.
Check out these healthy holiday eating tips from UC Davis Health dietitian Katie Stone:
1. Eat Wisely
Practicing mindful eating every day can help prevent overindulging while also increasing enjoyment. Be mindful of those hunger cues. Eat slowly and savor each bite.
2. Portion control
This is a key to enjoying holiday foods without feeling deprived. Use a smaller plate that allows for less food on your plate and aids in portion control.
3. Fill up on fiber-rich foods
These help satisfy hunger and are lower in calories.
4. Don’t skip meals
When you skip a meal earlier in the day, you are more likely to overeat at dinner.
5. Reflect on your favorite holiday foods
Make sure to incorporate them while also avoiding the foods that do not bring enjoyment.
6. Don't deprive yourself of every treat
Enjoying a sweet treat each day while also choosing healthier snacks is a great way to have balance and not fill up on empty calories.
7. Incorporate vegetables
Keep a bag of fruit and veggies with cheese, yogurt, or hummus available to enjoy for a snack. Or make a large salad with a colorful assortment of favorite fruits and vegetables.
**Recipe ideas: Appetizers can include vegetable strips with a low-fat dip. Or serve baguette rounds topped with light spreads such as hummus and basil, chopped chicken or a bit of salmon. Vegetable roll-ups can be served using a thin pastry such as rice paper. Fill them with low-fat cottage cheese, tofu and fresh vegetables.
8. Maintain an exercise routine
Aim for 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity each day to help you feel healthier during the holiday season. A brisk walk after a holiday dinner is a great time to call family and friends you haven't been able to see. Be an example and get the kids involved in exercise. This helps support healthy habits at a young age.
Ways to modify holiday recipes:
- Choose unsweetened flavored beverages and hydrate with water.
- Choose white meat without the skin is a lower-fat choice than dark meat.
- Limit gravies and cream sauces to just enough for taste.
- Cook stuffing in a separate dish from the meat: It will be lower in fat and there will be less risk of food poisoning from undercooked meat juices.
- Consider serving baked potatoes, yams and steamed vegetables plain rather than as part of a rich casserole or covered with cream sauce. Experiment with spices to flavor vegetables.
- Substitute evaporated skim milk or plain low-fat yogurt for cream and sour cream.
- Use less sugar in baked treats by using pureed fruit for natural sweetness.
- For dessert, limit choices to only 1 or 2 items and choose a smaller portion.
- Skip the eggnog and choose fewer alcoholic drinks, which tend to be higher in calories. One serving of alcohol is 5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of light beer or 1.5 ounces of liquor.