It’s that time of year again! You know…the Holidays. That blur between Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day when well-intentioned dreams of dietary moderation die. I get it. I understand. It can be difficult to stick to healthy holiday eating plans when all those delicious goodies seem to be calling your name. From the mac and cheese to the pies, to the dressing to the Christmas cookies, temptations abound. Don’t stress. Here are some simple tips to help you navigate the path of healthy holiday eating.
1. Get a Game Plan
Planning is the key to healthy holiday eating. Having a strategy can decrease the stress of worrying that you messed up your diet. Decide ahead of time how you are going to approach a holiday meal. Don’t make a game time decision while you are standing in front of the buffet spread. This will only lead to impulse choices.
2. Budget, Budget, Budget
Treat your calories like a bank account. Overdraft charges and fees are no fun when it comes to your money. The same is true with calories. Just like you plan and save to afford things you want to buy, you can use these same skills to budget your calories throughout the holidays. If you know there will be a holiday party at work, then consider having a lighter dinner at home that evening. If you know you will be eating at multiple relatives’ homes on Thanksgiving Day, only make small plates at each location.
3. Choose Worthy Indulgences
Creating room for indulgences is an important part of healthy holiday eating. Make sure you plan to incorporate holiday favorites you truly enjoy. Sometimes dishes can be lightened up a bit by decreasing butter or sugar, but some original recipes are too good to tamper with. If Grandma’s famous cheesecake is one of your favorite holiday traditions, then eat it and don’t feel bad about it. The strategy is to choose goodies that are actually worth the extra calories. Now you can experience all the warm and fuzzy feel-good memories without the guilt.
4. Mind Your Beverages
Don’t forget that calories from beverages can really add up. Keeping tabs on your drink calories are a healthy holiday eating must. All the sugar in apple cider, juice, and sweet tea pile more calories on top of the rich, calorie dense foods we already enjoy at holiday time. Alcohol is no exception. Alcohol has calories all by itself, but those calories can skyrocket when you mix in juice, soda, or eggnog.
5. Focus on Family
The holidays are about spending time with family and friends. Focus on enjoying the company of others instead of figuring out how to beat last year’s record for how much you can fit on your plate. Reconnect, laugh, and commune. Listen to your Uncle’s stories even though you’ve already heard the same ones a million times. Spending time and conversing with our loved ones can refocus our attention away from all the food in the kitchen.