The holiday season is a time for joy, celebration, and indulgence. It’s also a time when healthy eating habits can easily be pushed aside. Halloween candy marks the beginning of a series of festive end-of-year holidays, including Diwali, Thanksgiving, Chanukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and New Year’s Eve.
With all these delicious temptations, it can be a challenge to stay on track with your health and wellness goals. However, it is possible to enjoy the festivities without sacrificing your well-being. Here are some tips and tricks to incorporate healthy eating during the holidays without depriving yourself of special treats.
START WITH HALLOWEEN: TREATS IN MODERATION
The holiday season kicks off with Halloween, and the abundance of candy can be a test of willpower. Instead of banning treats altogether, try these strategies:
- Practice Portion Control: Allow yourself a small daily treat, and savor every bite.
- Choose Mindfully: Opt for dark chocolate or treats with lower sugar content.
- Donate Extra Candy: avoid temptation by donating excess candy to a charity that is collecting it.
DIWALI: EATING LIGHT DURING THE FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS
Diwali is a festival of lights and delicious traditional sweets. You can enjoy the festivities while keeping your health in check:
- Homemade Sweets: Prepare healthier versions of traditional sweets, like date and nut-based energy bites or baked goods made with whole wheat flour.
- Stay Active: Engage in Diwali celebrations like dance or outdoor activities to burn off extra calories.
THANKSGIVING: BALANCE FEAST AND FITNESS
Thanksgiving is all about the feast, and with some planning, you can maintain a balance:
- Fill Up on Veggies: Load your plate with colorful vegetables and leafy greens before indulging in the heavier dishes.
- Healthy Substitutions: Swap out ingredients in your recipes, like using Greek yogurt instead of sour cream and whole-grain bread for stuffing.
- Pre-Meal Exercise: Start your day with a brisk walk or an exercise class to rev up your metabolism.
Quick and Easy Recipe: Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes
- Substitute half of the potatoes with steamed cauliflower.
- Mash together with Greek yogurt, garlic, and a touch of olive oil for a creamy texture.
Quick and Easy Recipe: Quinoa-Stuffed Acorn Squash
- Cut acorn squash in half, scoop out seeds, and roast.
- Prepare a quinoa and vegetable stuffing with your favorite seasonings.
- Fill the roasted squash halves with the quinoa mixture.
CHANUKAH: CHOOSE BAKED OVER FRIED
Chanukah often features delicious fried foods like latkes. Opt for a healthier approach:
- Baked Latkes: Make your latkes by baking them instead of frying, and use sweet potatoes or zucchinis for a nutrient boost.
- Applesauce: Serve unsweetened applesauce as a dipping sauce instead of sour cream.
- Whole Wheat Challah: Use whole wheat flour for your traditional challah recipe.
Resource: Food Network’s Healthy Hanukkah ideas
CHRISTMAS: DECK THE HALLS WITH HEALTHY FOODS
During Christmas, it’s easy to go overboard with cookies and eggnog. Try these ideas:
- Healthy Baking: Make cookies using whole-grain flour and natural sweeteners, and decorate with fruit toppings.
- Festive Salads: Create colorful, festive salads to complement your main course, using cranberries, pomegranate seeds, and nuts.
- Limit Alcohol: Keep alcohol consumption in check and alternate with sparkling water or herbal tea.
Resource: Skinny Taste’s Skinny EggNog recipe
KWANZAA: EMBRACE FRESH INGREDIENTS
Kwanzaa is all about celebrating African heritage and culture. You can enjoy this holiday with a focus on fresh, vibrant ingredients:
- Plant-Based Dishes: Explore plant-based recipes featuring beans, lentils, and a variety of colorful vegetables.
- Spices: Use herbs and spices to flavor your dishes instead of excessive salt and fat.
- Homemade Cornbread: Make your own cornbread using whole grains and less sugar.
NEW YEAR’S EVE: SIP SMART AND STAY ACTIVE
As the year draws to a close, New Year’s Eve often involves indulgent meals and cocktails. Here’s how to make healthier choices:
- Sip Mindfully: Choose lower-calorie cocktails, or alternate with sparkling water between alcoholic beverages.
- Small Plates: Opt for small portions of appetizers and meals to control calorie intake.
- Stay Active: Incorporate physical activity into your New Year’s celebration, like a post-dinner walk or dancing.
Incorporating healthy eating into your holiday celebrations doesn’t mean you have to deprive yourself. It’s about making thoughtful choices, enjoying special treats in moderation, and staying active. By following these tips and trying out healthier holiday recipes, you can savor the joy of the season without sacrificing your well-being. Happy and healthy holidays!