By: Kristi Goode
The holidays can be hectic for anyone. Whether you're trying to stay on track with your current wellness goal or ready to make a new goal that leads to healthier habits. There are many actions that you can take to maintain structure and balance with your nutrition goal during the holidays. Here are a few realistic approaches.
First, try not to make it all about the food. Enjoy your time with your family. Play games, watch movies, catch up (even if it's over zoom), relax and try to de-stress. Take time to strengthen your relationship with others. This can be a great boost for your overall well-being. You may be surprised by how much fun you'll have without the food. Also, relaxing makes it easier for your body to digest food and assists with hunger cues. Sometimes we tend to indulge in more treats and sweets because we're stressed from the holiday.
Second, swap healthier options for sides. Everyone loves a good traditional family casserole. Try making a healthier version of sweet potato or green bean casserole. Swap out freshly roasted green beans with almonds or pecans for green bean casserole. Swap out freshly roasted sweet potatoes (or mashed) dusted with cinnamon and a drizzle of maple syrup, for sweet potato casserole that is usually made with lots of sugar and marshmallows!
Who doesn't love sweets around the holidays? There's usually an abundance! Swap out refined white processed sugars for more natural sugars such as maple syrup, honey, dates, or whole fruits or freshly squeezed fruit juices. Another great tip to consuming less sugar is to cut the amount of sugar a recipe calls for by 1/3 and swap a natural sweetener. Cookies and breads can be made with bananas or apples for a naturally sweet taste. Swap pumpkin pie puree for pumpkin pie filling in pies and baked goods. This will allow you to control the amount of sugar. Frozen grapes or dates filled with nut butters are also good swaps for hard candies.
Lastly, build your own healthy plate! Holiday favorites can still have a lot of nutrients. Build a plate of favorites, in smaller portions, but look for healthier options too! Look for a protein first. Protein fills you up and keeps you satiated longer. Load up on salad or veggies but be mindful of the dressings or sauces that accompany those items. Instead of going for seconds, make a second plate for later. When heading for sweets and treats, choose one dessert and save another for later.
Even if you eat a little more than you normally would, don't beat yourself up. Don't fear falling off track or inhibiting your progress. One day is not going to sabotage the structure you've created in reaching your goal. Just get back on track the next day. By using the above tips, you can create a healthy, happy, and balanced holiday season. Remember, the greatest gift you can give yourself is health!