Guys, I’m SO stinkin’ excited about this post!
One, because I know ye who are in search of some healthy eating tips will benefit from it. Two, because I’m greedy. I struggle with staying on track so much during the holidays. When there are so many decadent dishes and delicious desserts on the table right in front of me, how can I not indulge this time of year?! And that’s coming from someone who actively tries to eat as many whole foods as possible all year long. But I’m here today with a few tips to help guide you through the holiday season by making healthier choices whenever possible.
We’re going to start attacking this topic from the source: why should you and I care about making healthier choices? Holidays are the time were indulging is at its peak; nobody wants to say “no” to those tempting Christmas cookies. It’s important that we’re mindful of these temptations and try to strike a balance between satisfying and nourishing food choices. Because who in the world would want to choose the healthier option if it tastes like dirt and/or grass? YEEEEAHnotme.
Thus my 5 Healthy Eating Tips for the Holidays were born! These 5 simple tips were created to help you enjoy the holidays while still keeping my health goals in mind. Let’s conquer this holiday season, friends!
Oh, and here’s an adorable little printable cheat-sheet that you’ll be able to refer to all season long. ?
#1: Don’t Skip.
First of all, try to eat breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks every single day. I know it sort of sounds counter-intuitive, because eating less in the beginning of the day to reserve some stomach space for an indulgent night may seem like the way to go. But if you eat throughout the day, you’re less likely to overeat later. Take it from someone who knows this phenomenon very very well: your body is going to be so excited that you’re feeding it, that it’ll keep asking for more and more until you won’t know what hit you. Honestly, I try to eat something about every 2 hours in order to keep my energy up and my hunger at bay.
You’ll also be able to better plan your meals so you’re sure you get the correct nutrients each day. If you wait until nighttime to eat, your body is looking for everything and anything to consume; if you pace out your meals, you can make sure to get proteins, carbs, and fats in each meal. Take this Easy Stuffing with Quinoa and Vegetables recipe. You have protein from the quinoa, a seed and complete protein for vegetarians. You have carbs from the fruits and vegetables. And you have healthy fats from the pecan pieces and olive oil in the dressing. Boom: a complete meal! And all in under 30 minutes!
And just a final note: if you eat throughout the day, you’ll ward off that crazy hangyism. No one needs to be hangry around extended family; that situation is stressful enough without the lack of food making you a ravenous beast. ?
Water water water! Staying hydrated is important in a healthy lifestyle for many reasons, but it also helps curb hunger. I always heard the tip that you should always take a sip of water before deciding if you’re hungry or not. I’m a huge night-eater, so this tip really helps me control how much I munch on before bed.
Numbers vary quite a bit, but I always try and aim for drinking at least 8 cups of water/day. One of the best investments I’ve made to help me get to this goal was buying a water bottle with measure marks. If I drink two of these water bottles a day, I know that I’m getting enough H2O. I bought it at Kohl’s for about $10. I also make it part of my daily to-do list on my phone that sends me a little reminder at night if I didn’t reach my water goal yet.
Another thing to keep in mind is that you can drink and eat your water! Whole foods are a fantastic source of water, so when you can, choose some water-rich foods like apples, pineapple, watermelon, oranges, squash, spinach, etc. (Psst…these Apple Pie Stuffed Apples are a crazy-delicious option!) I know most of these items are out of season, but try this tip out again once summer comes along!
#3: Bring It.
If you’re really being mindful of choosing healthier options this holiday season, bring a dish you know is on the healthier side to any party or get-together. This way, you know there’s at least one dish there that fits within your goals. I recommend that you find healthier swaps for well-known recipes so that they’re crowd-pleasers. And don’t feel the need to broadcast that your dish is lightened up; let people decide on their own whether or not they enjoy the dish, and then drop the knowledge bomb on them that it’s actually pretty healthy! They’ll be super excited, you’ll be super excited….it’ll make for good party convos. My Easy Fall Vegetable Risotto is a great choice for this type of situation. We get some great nutrients from the vegetables piled inside, but it’s still just as creamy and flavorful as the original!
#4: Swap It.
I know I talked about this a little bit already, but, when you can, try to find healthier swaps for the ingredients in your recipes. There are so many resources online for healthier swaps, but there are some that I rely on quite a bit. For example, I use my homemade chocolate bark recipe as the chocolate in every single chocolate recipe here on the blog. And I have a lot. You can also make simple subs like whole wheat or brown rice pasta for regular. I love the DeLallo brand (full disclosure: I do work with them on recipes), but so many companies are jumping on the “healthy pasta” bandwagon these days; take time to find your favorite! Sugar is a big one for me because I try to limit the amount of refined sugar I consume. Refined sugar is in everything these days, like cereal, bread, and coffee creamer, so if you choose to use natural maple syrup to make your own homemade Dairy-Free Pumpkin Spice Coffee Creamer like I did, you’ll be choosing a healthier alternative to the refined stuff.
#5: Enjoy It.
The holidays come once a year, and stressing about every morsel that enters your mouth isn’t the way to relax and enjoy some time with family. Definitely try to make healthier choices when possible, but don’t feel bad for indulging once in a while. And if you do over-indulge, it won’t totally wreck your health plans. Just try to get back on track the following day. Portion control will really help, too. If you want a cookie, have a cookie. Just don’t have 10. Be mindful when you’re eating that cookie. Savor it, don’t just mindlessly shove it into your mouth and reach for a second, third, or fourth.
Also remember that too much of anything is never a good thing. Just because you’ve made healthier swaps doesn’t mean you should eat an entire batch of muffins, no matter how delicious they might be. Take this 3-Ingredient Peanut Butter Fudge, for instance. It is a healthy fat-bomb because it’s made with peanut butter, coconut butter, and maple syrup. Although it’s made up of healthier ingredients, you probably shouldn’t eat the entire batch. Again, savoring is key. Allow yourself little indulgences throughout the season, I mean seriously…Christmas cookies are meant to be consumed, just don’t go overboard.
Woo hoo! Who’s ready to take on the holidays now?! Do you have any other tips for staying within your goals during this season?
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