You’ve been so good. You’ve managed to keep that diet you started months ago going strong and you’re determined to keep the pounds you’ve lost off. Permanently.
However, the holidays are fast approaching and you’ve promised to bake your famous apple pie for the family. You don’t want to let anyone down, but with more pies, cranberry dressing, and spiced tea just around the corner you may be wondering how to stay on track with a balanced diet this Holiday season.
The 2015 – 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends moving towards eating a variety of nutritious foods and beverages consistently, in addition to regular exercise for optimal health. In other words, staying fit and eating healthful foods on a regular basis is vital for good health.
The question is, can this be achieved during the holidays? Yes! The key is to choose wisely, eat in moderation, be in control of portions and stay active!
Here are some tips to help you navigate your way through this holiday season – guilt free.
Tip #1 – Planning Ahead
First and foremost, eating healthy requires planning and thinking ahead. Start by marking your calendar to get ready for the big day. You will want to start your day with some fiber! Loading up on high fiber foods such as fresh fruit or oats will help you get ready for a big meal later that day! Seasonal fruits are full of vitamin C, naturally sweet and usually less expensive.
Consider a serving of fresh strawberries or blueberries, with a cup of fat-free plain yogurt or cup of fat-free milk for some protein and calcium! Add half a teaspoon of local honey for some added sweetness, this amounts to less than one serving.
Tip #2 – Portion Control
Food experts suggest eating 4-6 small meals a day and really, who wouldn’t want to eat this many times on that during the holidays? Take small meals throughout the day to help keep your tummy satisfied, but keep a close eye on what’s on your plate.
Place prepared dishes on the center of the table and allow guests to serve themselves. When it’s your turn, be mindful of recommended portions. For example, a serving of protein is the size of the palm of your hand, that’s about three ounces for adults and one to two ounces for our little ones. A vegetable serving is half-a-cup cooked or one-cup raw, a starch serving is half-a-cup of rice, beans, or potatoes or one slice of bread, to name a few. Starches can be challenging to limit, but you can do it! Keeping these servings in mind will help you maintain healthy eating patterns. Eating the right amount of food and sipping on low or no-calorie beverages can help you stay on track!
Tip #3 – Smart Choices
Many recipes can be tweaked without losing out on flavor and texture. Use low-sodium broths for creating heart healthy sauces and stews. Try swapping the oil in a recipe with naturally sweetened applesauce. Ounce for ounce, applesauce can be used instead of vegetable oil when preparing muffins, brownies, pancakes and more. Another baking tip is to substitute regular sugar with a sugar replacement product to cut down on calories as well as carbohydrates.
For those specialty beverages, go natural. Lower the sugar in your cup or cut it out completely by using simple ingredients that add flavor to your drink. Hydrate your body throughout the day by drinking at least 8 glasses of water. Add a wedge of lime or lemon and for additional flavor, toss in a fresh leaf of mint. End the day with some spiced herbal tea, adding a pinch of powdered cinnamon and a whole clove. Herbs and spices generally steep well in hot or cold drinks. Wondering about spirits? The general rule is to limit alcoholic beverages to one drink for the ladies and up to two drinks for the gentlemen per day, or less often if you typically don’t drink.
Lastly, once you’ve indulged, you’ll want to get rid of some of the excess calories.
Tip #4 – Stay Active
Family time is important for most. So, spend time together being a healthy and fit family. Consider going for a walk or hike. Ride bicycles with the kids or try playing a sport. Flag football, hopscotch and dancing are good ways to burn off some of those carbs. This will get the kiddos active, help you stick to your exercise goals and create bonding opportunities and memories.
Not an outdoor person? No worries. Indoor games can be just as challenging and entertaining. Think of games that will get your body moving and stretching, like Twister, a Wii dance off, or musical chairs. Be creative and choose activities that are fun and interactive for the whole family!
Enjoy the holidays, eat healthy and be well.
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