Dieting during the holidays can seem utterly impossible. You want to stick to your meal plan, but how can you manage to around all the family, friends, food, and festivities? From experience, you know that the inevitable is going to happen. Friends and family are going to egg you on to try this and that. Platters of food and desserts covering every inch of the table will be calling your name from across the room. Luckily, you do not have to dread the holidays even if you are on a diet. Here are five great ways to help you eat healthfully and still enjoy a guilt-free holiday with your loved ones.
1. Make Healthy Substitutions
If you are cooking or baking for the holidays, you can definitely make your foods healthier without sacrificing flavor by merely making healthy substitutions. For example, swap out canned fruit or juice with fresh or frozen fruits, exchange potato chips for kale chips or popcorn, use whole-wheat flour instead of white flour, and replace half of the butter with unsweetened applesauce, coconut oil, or pureed avocado.
The list of healthy substitutions for different ingredients is innumerable; do a quick search online for ideas and proportion guidelines. It will help you cut half of your calories, fat, and sugar.
If you are looking to stay within a calorie limit, try substituting one or two meals at the beginning of the day with a nutritious Almased smoothie. By doing so, you won’t have to feel guilty if you mistakenly have a large meal at dinner.
2. Downsize Your Portions
During the holidays, every meal can make it seem as if you are at a buffet. The food choices are endless, and how can you not sample everything offered? So as you plate your food, you can’t help but add an extra serving or two of your favorite dishes, unconsciously filling up your plate until it is towering with food.
While it is exciting to try an assortment of food, this is what will make it easy for you to overeat. To keep your waistline in check, downsize your portions.
You can do this by allowing yourself only to have one plate of food, one leveled scoop of each food item on the table, keeping foods in the center of the plate without passing the brim and by not going back to the serving table for an extra helping.
3. Designate Eating Areas
If you tend to habitually eat in places like your living room, bedroom or even while driving, you will notice that whenever you are in these areas, you suddenly develop an urge to snack whether you are not hungry. This urge is because cravings can be associated with where you eat.
If you are road tripping for the holidays or will have most of the activities held in your living room, choose to allow food only in the dining room or kitchen and make everywhere else eat-free zones.
Designating eating areas is a great way to break free from unnecessary cravings and save you from eating extra calories throughout the day.
4. Pack Away Food
Some of the best and most memorable conversations happen over dinner. Conversations carry on even after you are done eating. As you continue to mingle, have you ever noticed that even though you were full, you kept eating because the food was still in front of you, waving to get your attention?
Here’s a tip: When you feel yourself getting full during a meal, start to pack your food away, or remove the food from sight. This will keep you from reaching for more food and overeating.
5. Plan a Fun Activity
Activities during the holidays do not have to center around food or the TV. Plan one 30-minute activity or two 15-minute physical activities to enjoy with your friends or family. It can be as simple as taking a walk in the park, throwing or kicking a ball around, biking in the neighborhood, or playing fun games with your kids such as capture the flag, freeze-tag or red light, green light.