BLOG: Nutrition Throughout the Holidays
When people think of the holidays, the first things that come to mind are family, friends, and food. While some people may fear the weight gain that typically is associated with the holiday season, it is entirely possible to enjoy all three of these things without gaining weight. Traditional holiday dishes can be tweaked to be lower in calories, or new dishes can be introduced to spice things up! Avoidance of overeating and recipe modifications can prevent the dreaded holiday weight gain.
Eat Regular Meals throughout the Day
So many people try to ‘save up' their calories throughout the day so they are able to eat more during holiday meals. Instead, it's important to try to eat as normally as possible that day. When a person eats their usual breakfast and lunch that day, they are less likely to binge at the main holiday meal. They actually end up eating fewer calories, if they listen to their satiety cues.
Listen to Your Body
Speaking of satiety cues, it is very important to listen to your body while eating your big meal. The smells and appearance of the smorgasbord of food can be very tempting. It can be very easy to ignore your body telling you that it is full. Then you end up stuffed and feel the need to loosen your belt. Get a small plate first and just fill it with very small portions of what you really want. At these types of dinners, there are usually so many options that it is very easy to quickly fill your plate without even meaning to, so portion sizes are key. Once you have filled your plate, go sit down and eat slowly. Enjoy spending time with your family at the table and engage in conversation. This will make it much easier to eat more slowly and this gives your brain time to process that it is being fed. You will be able to recognize that you are full before going back to get seconds. If you are full, do not eat more! This will only make you tired and miserable. If you still feel hungry, wait about fifteen minutes. If you still feel hungry, go back and get a small plate of seconds. And don't forget, there is still dessert!
Share Your Dessert
Desserts...my own personal weakness. It is so incredibly hard for me to pass up a delicious looking piece of pie or cake. Good news is that it's okay to have dessert on holidays! Once again, keep portion sizes in mind. It's always easier to control these by finding someone with whom to share a dessert. This way, you only end up eating half, but still get to enjoy it. If you are a person who likes to try everything, then try only a taste of each thing. Desserts are great, but only in moderation.
Another way to keep off those holiday pounds is by burning more calories! Walking with family members after a big meal is a great way to relax, catch up, and burn some of the calories that were just consumed. If there are little kids in the family, take them out to a park and play with them. They will appreciate it and so will your waistline. If there aren't any little kids in the family, you can still get out and walk around the neighborhood or go play a game of football with the family. Anything to get out and get moving will be beneficial.
Don't forget that there are many ways you can change your traditional holiday recipes to make them healthier while still tasting amazing. The internet can be incredibly helpful in finding recipes like this. If you have a Pinterest, you can simply type "Healthy holiday recipes" into the search bar and thousands of options will appear in front of you. Below is one of my favorite classics made healthier by cooking it with less fat. This recipe is both healthy AND delicious.
Fresh Green Bean Casserole
Yield: 10 servings
Serving size: ½ cup
Nutritional information (per serving): 107 calories, 3 g total fat, 14 g carbohydrate, 4 g protein
- 1½ lbs. fresh green beans, trimmed
- 2 tbsp. margarine
- 3 tbsp. all purpose flour
- 1 tbsp. dry ranch salad dressing mix
- ¼ tsp. ground white pepper
- 1½ cups fat free milk
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1½ cups sliced fresh mushroom
- 1 cup soft whole wheat bread crumbs
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a covered saucepan, cook green beans in a small amount of boiling water for 10-15 minutes or until crisp-tender; drain and set aside.
- Meanwhile, for white sauce: In a medium saucepan, melt margarine. Stir in flour, dry dressing mix, and white pepper until combined. Stir in milk. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly; remove from heat.
- Coat an unheated medium nonstick skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Preheat over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; cook for 2-3 minutes or until tender. Removed half of onion mixture; set aside.
- Add mushrooms to skillet and cook about 5 minutes or until tender. In a 1-½ quart casserole dish, combine mushroom mixture, beans, and white sauce.
- In a small bowl, stir together reserved onion mixture and breadcrumbs. Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture over bean mixture in casserole dish. Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes or until heated through.