By Lauren Denos: 12/8/2014 (Nutrition)

The holidays are a great time of year. Many of us get to spend time with family, getting and giving presents and then there is the food. Lots and lots of wonderful food. This is the ultimate time of year for comfort food and over indulging. The thing is, you should enjoy the holidays. Unless you have a specific health issue restricting your eating, then you should indulge in the festivities. We are all working on our health so that we can have a better quality of life and enjoy ourselves. If you are restricting everything you enjoy on the holidays, you are going to be bitter about it. While enjoying yourself is important, there are things you can do to help yourself have a healthier holiday season.

Be reasonable. Enjoying some less than healthy food does not mean you need to eat a ridiculous amount. If you are going to have pie have 1 slice, not 3. If you want to eat candied yams and stuffing then take one spoonful and fill your plates with some protein and vegetables as well. You still want to be balanced with what you are eating. If you indulge in some of your favorite foods that is great, but make sure you also have some of the other food groups as well.

Do not think that this is the only time you will ever get to eat a holiday meal. You can make some of this stuff throughout the year if you really want to and most likely where ever you are eating they would be happy to send you home with some. If you are the one creating the meal and do not want to have all the extra food hanging around the house, then send some home with others. Some things like turkey, ham and vegetables you can make some health meals out of that will last you a while, but most people do not want to keep a ton of candied yams, stuffing and pie around the house since they know they will eat it to their own detriment. Send the food you do not want home with others!

Be aware of where your calories are coming from. The tendency is to have great drinks and appetizers while waiting for the holiday meal. The drinks you are downing may have quite a few extra calories in them, so pay attention to what you are drinking and how many drinks you have. Make sure you drink plenty of water, it will help keep you hydrated especially if you are drinking alcohol and it will help keep you fuller throughout the night. As for appetizers, be aware of how much you are snacking on, this has a tendency to get out of hand really fast. A good idea is to not mill around the appetizer table. Grab whatever snack you want and then move away, otherwise you will continue snacking without even realizing how much you are packing away.

Be creative with your food. There are so many things you can do to make your favorite dishes healthier.

  • Instead of ranch dressing on a salad make a homemade olive oil dressing.
  • Create some tasty vegetable options like some ginger, garlic, and olive sautéed green beans instead of creamy green beans.
  • Instead of the sugar-crusted hams, do a savory garlic seasoned ham.
  • Choose vegetable and fruit appetizers instead of bread, butter, and cheeses.
  • Salsa and chips are also a good choice for your appetizer table.

There are going to be dishes that you have to have the old fashioned way because it is your favorite thing ever, but there are going to be a lot of other things that you can alter to be healthier and still be super delicious.

One big thing to keep in mind is no matter what holiday meal you are going to, do not skip meals that day. You may be tempted to not eat anything all so that you can go crazy with Christmas diner. This is a bad plan. If you let yourself get hungry you are far too likely to be out of control. When you are hungry you will not care about all the other things we have talked about here; rather, you will simply want to eat all the worst stuff you can find. That is, if you even make it to diner. More than likely you will gorge yourself on snack foods before diner even comes around. If you eat your breakfast and lunch, you will go into the festivities with a level head and make much smarter choices. Happy Holidays make some healthy choices but above all enjoy it!



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