Studies show that the average American gains 1 to 2 pounds over the holiday season.  This may not sound like much, but in most cases this weight becomes permanent baggage.  Continued weight gain year after year can lead to obesity in adulthood.  The good news: with the right nutrition and health information as well as the right attitude, you can enjoy this and every holiday season without the worry of expanding your waistline.

The following are tips to help you stay healthy and fit this holiday season.

  1. Choose larger portions of fruits and vegetables and smaller portions of pasta, casseroles, breads, dressings, and desserts.

A healthy diet is all about balance, variety, and appropriate portion sizes.  By no means does it require you to eliminate all of the foods you love (who sticks to that kind of diet for more than a week or two anyway?).  Balancing macronutrients (carbohydrates, fat, and protein) each meal will likely keep you fuller longer.  Be open to trying new foods.  Eat the foods you love, but use self-control when portioning these foods onto your plate.

  1. Don’t arrive to the holiday party starved!

Waiting too long to eat typically results in craving foods higher in sugar, fat, and sodium.  Don’t worry about starving yourself all day long to “save room” for dinner.  Eat healthy foods and drink water before arriving to the party, and you’re more likely to consume fewer calories and make healthier choices while you are there.

Remember not to let your eyes get bigger than your stomach!  I think we’ve all been guilty of this one.  Try this: obtain smaller portions of food, and tell yourself you can go back for seconds if you are still hungry.  It might surprise you how satisfied you are after just one plate!  I used the word satisfied for a reason.  There is a huge difference between being satisfied and stuffed.  Eat slowly, and allow your body time to digest the food and tell you when it is satisfied so that you do not overeat.

  1. Scope out the food before making decisions.

This is especially true for the dessert table.  Pick one or two of your favorites instead of filling your plate (or you can do what I do and take just one bite of 4 or 5 different desserts, so I am able to try a variety)!

  1. Remember to make time for you!

In all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, remember to make time for you.  Plan ahead.  Don’t let your usual workout plan fall to the wayside.  Cooking and shopping is sometimes a workout in itself, so even just making time for a quick 15-minute workout at home before going to bed can be beneficial.  Do what works for you.  Regular physical activity is not only good for your physical and mental health, but it will leave you feeling more alert and awake throughout each day.

Below, I’ve included a list of healthy substitutions.  Look for those which can be applied to your favorite holiday recipes this season!

Choose Instead of
Skim milk, fat-free milk, or unsweetened almond milk Whole milk
Fat-free sour cream Regular sour cream
Whole grain rolls White rolls
Fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables Fruits and vegetables canned with heavy syrup or added sugars
Whole wheat flour White flour
Low-sodium canned soups and broths Regular canned soups and broths
Olive oil or canola oil Vegetable oil
Nuts, dried fruits, cocoa powder, or dark chocolate Milk chocolate or white chocolate
Fruit preserves Frosting
Sweet potatoes White potatoes
Frozen yogurt with berries Slice of pie or slice of cake with ice cream
Baked or grilled chicken, turkey, or fish Fried/breaded chicken, turkey, or fish
Lean meats (fish, turkey, chicken, etc.) Fatty meats (sausage, bacon, ham, T-bone steak, etc.)

 

Here is one example of how making small changes can yield a healthier recipe.  Typical brownie recipes yielding 9-10 servings include ingredients like vegetable oil, butter, sugar (1 cup or more in most recipes!), salt, and flour.  Not to mention a separate ingredients list for the frosting.

These brownies are a delicious alternative to the norm.  When I make them, I spread a little bit of peanut butter over the top as they cool (pictured).

Healthier Avocado Brownies recipe:

  • 1 large avocado
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 3.5oz bar dark chocolate
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 355°F
  2. Grease/line an 8” square cake/brownie pan
  3. In a food processor or mixer, blend the avocado, eggs, vanilla, and water until smooth
  4. Melt the dark chocolate, and add to the avocado mix
  5. Add in the cocoa, sugar, baking soda, and salt, and mix until combined
  6. If the mixture is too thick, add 1 tbsp water at a time until consistency is as desired
  7. Smooth the mixture into your pan, spreading the mix out to all of the edges
  8. Bake for 22-25 minutes until cooked through and a fork inserted removes clean
  9. Leave to cool, chill in fridge or serve warm. Enjoy!

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