Seven Helpful Tips for a Healthier Holiday

Healthier Thanksgiving

Holiday Food by Numbers

It’s the Holiday season! However you celebrate the holidays this year, it’s imperative to make healthier food decisions. For many of us, the winter months are a time to indulge, and our exercise or healthy diet routines often suffer. 

In truth, 75% of weight gain occurs during the holiday season. According to Popular Science, those pounds are not shed until June, and we bottom out at our lowest weight at the end of October – right before the cycle starts again. 

To put it in perspective, let’s look at nutritional facts for a typical Thanksgiving meal:

  • One turkey leg is 417 calories and requires 1 hour and 56 minutes of walking to burn off
  • Half a cup of stuffing/dressing is 439 calories and requires 2 hours and 2 minutes of walking to burn off
  • One cup of mashed potatoes is 237 calories and requires 1 hour and 6 minutes of walking to burn off
  • One slice of pumpkin pie is 279 calories and requires 1 hour and 17 minutes of walking to burn off
  • One slice of pecan pie is 532 calories and requires 2 hours and 28 minutes of walking to burn off

The festivities don’t stop there! There’s Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and the Superbowl, so you’re probably looking at an additional 15-20 hours of exercise needed to burn off all that grub.

Tips for a Healthier Holiday

Holiday Tradition - Thanksgiving with the Family

Before we start stressing about what to eat, it’s absolutely possible to make healthier choices without forgoing all of our favorite foods, and this only requires small changes. Here are some helpful tips to help facilitate a healthier holiday season:

Start Your Party at Home

If you’re celebrating at another family member’s house, snack on small amounts of nuts, string cheese, or whole-grain crackers at home, so you’re not starving by the time you arrive. 

Practice Saying “No” 

When you’re shopping at the grocery store and find yourself drooling over a ready-made bundt cake in the dessert section, practice restraint, walk away and opt for healthier desserts like this raspberry chia pudding or apple mug cake. On the other hand, if a gracious host offers you plates of tasty treats, it’s okay to say no.

Toast the Holidays with a Wine Spritzer

Having too much alcohol is a surefire way to eat more and gain weight. Plus, many holiday drinks – as delicious as they might sound – are loaded with calories that add up quickly. Instead, make yourself a wine spritzer by mixing two ounces of wine with club soda and top it off with a little cranberry juice and fresh-squeezed lime juice. 

Swap Out Ingredients

Reduce calories without sacrificing taste by doing these simple substitutes:

  • Use low-sodium chicken broth in your mashed potatoes to add flavor and cut back on added butter or margarine
  • Substitute apple sauce or pumpkin puree for oil, margarine, or butter in muffins and bread loaves
  • For crunchy toppings, use sliced almonds in place of fried onion rings

Drink More Water

Dehydration is a trigger for overeating, and during the holiday season, we tend to drink more alcohol or sugary beverages. So, drink up and hydrate with water

Avoid Building Food Towers

Building a food tower on your plate may be a holiday ritual, but use a salad or dessert plate instead and make it a rule not to stack foods on top of each other. It’s okay to go for seconds, but this rule will help you control your portions and cut calories considerably.

Join a Fitness Event

Do you usually feel bloated the day after a holiday celebration? Fight off post-holiday fatigue by signing up for a fitness event and ask a friend or family to join in on the fun – we guarantee you’ll feel energized. 

Apply These Healthy Tips All Year-Round

Healthy food choices begin by simply being mindful of what you eat and how you prep your foods – not to mention the added benefit of staying active. These tips don’t have to begin and end during the holiday seasons. Continue to implement them throughout the year so you can live a healthier lifestyle. Happy Holidays!

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