5 easy ways to maintain your healthy eating habits through the holidays.

5 easy ways to maintain your healthy eating habits through the holidays.

How are you going to maintain your healthy eating habits through the holidays?

How will you maintain your healthy eating habits through the holidays, as you plan for a very different holiday season this year? Change causes stress, and stress affects how we eat. Do we bother with the full menu, when it’s only a few people? Will it still feel like the holiday, if we don’t?

This year almost everything has changed. In some ways, for the good, such as spending less time commuting and maybe a more flexible work schedule. On the other hand, we find ourselves snacking more, and getting less exercise as we sit in front of our computers. The “quarantine fifteen” is a real thing.

Here are 5 tips to help you succeed:

1. Pare down the menu

Pare down the menu to maintain healthy eating through the holidays

It always helps to make a list. Write down what you “can’t do without” for your holiday meal. In other words, decide which foods are the most traditional and therefore “must-haves“.

In my family, Christmas Eve dinner was more important than our meal on Christmas Day. Growing up in an Italian family, we always had fish and pasta. Typically, our Christmas Eve dinner could have up to a dozen different entrees and desserts!

Obviously, we won’t be making everything this year. Our group will be small. For a dinner of up to 10 people, plan for no more than 5 dishes. And maybe just 1 dessert. Ideally, 1 course should include a big leafy green salad.

For me, a must-have is Marie’s stuffed mushrooms They bring back so many memories. I can picture my mom making them in her kitchen. Another can’t-do-without is mom’s manicotti made with Marie’s gravy.

2. Ditch any fried food

Ditch the fried food to maintain healthy eating through the holidays

If we include flounder this year, it will not be fried. Baking or broiling will significantly reduce the calories and still result in a delicious entree.

Another option is to swap out the flounder for salmon which is higher in omega-3 fatty acids. If the weather permits, grilled salmon can’t-be-beat. Drizzle with a little olive oil or Italian seasoning for a tasty treat.

3. Limit pre-meal snacks and liquid calories to maintain healthy eating habits through the holidays.

Limit pre-meal snacks and liquid calories to maintain healthy eating  habits through the holidays.

An antipasto tray, which usually includes cheeses and deli meats, are high in fat and cholesterol. Instead, consider a fruit or veggie tray. Keep it small and don’t replenish. Let the dinner be the main attraction they’re all waiting for. Pair it with a skinny greek yogurt ranch dip with just two ingredients: Greek yogurt and Mrs. Dash Ranch dip mix.

Alcoholic drinks can be surprisingly high in calories. For example, a typical pina colada can pack in over 650 calories and mimosas between 150 and 200 calories. Swapping out the coke for a diet coke significantly reduces the calories in a rum and coke or other mixed drink. A typical 12-ounce beer has around 150 calories, however, “light” beers are lower. A 5-ounce glass of wine contains between 120 and 130 calories. Consider some of the many flavored seltzers that offer a bubbly drink without the calories.

4. Make 1 awesome dessert

If you want to keep the cannolis, try a healthy cannoli dip instead. It’s made with fat-free ricotta cheese and vanilla Greek yogurt with mini semi-sweet chocolate chips and vanilla extract.

It’s lighter in calories and fat. Put a dollop on a thin wafer or cookie and savor the taste of an old tradition.

Try an alternative to the usual Christmas cookie array. These Low-Fat Sugar Cookies use a lot less butter than most sugar cookies. Add some fiber with a colorful bowl of fresh fruit for another low-calorie option.

5. Get out and move

Get out and move to stay active and maintain healthy habits over the holidays

Some cities host December 5Ks such as Reindeer or Rudolf Runs or Santa Shuffles. These can be fun for the whole family. Or bundle up for a bike ride or plan a pre-or post-dinner walk to pump up your metabolism and burn some calories.

Staying active through the holidays can help offset those extra calories that you will inevitably be faced with. Don’t fret about one or two missed days. Just get right back to it on day three.

To sum up…

This year is like no other. Things will be different, but with a little planning, some of your must-haves can keep your holiday meal special.

Also, a few recipe adjustments can help keep your healthy eating habits going strong. But accept setbacks without feeling guilty. Get out and get moving. It will not only make you feel better, it will make you feel better about yourself.

Happy Holidays!

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