Wellness Wednesday: Eating Healthy During the Holiday Season

The holiday season is filled with hustle and bustle, shopping, decorating, gift-giving (and receiving) and spending time with family and friends. But let’s face it … it’s also a time for over-indulging in some pretty awesome food!

Head of the family cutting the turkeyBetween Thanksgiving and New Years, if you’re like most people, there is no shortage of family and friend get-togethers filled with great feasts and delicious treats. There’s turkey and ham, stuffing, sweet potato casserole, seven fishes (if you’re Italian), Christmas cookies, chrusciki (if you’re Polish), pies (oh, so many pies!) and lots of candy treats.

And if you’re Jewish, or invited to the home of Jewish friends or family, you’ll likely find plenty of chocolate gelt, rugelach, kugel and sufganiyot (jam-filled doughnuts) as well.

It’s easy to get carried away and many of us have felt that bloated feeling of eating too much during this time. And if you’re dieting … it can become a make a break time if you’re not careful.

But it doesn’t have to be so difficult. You can indulge in some of your favorites if you just remember … moderation. If you are the one doing the cooking or baking, you can make some changes in the menu or recipe to help keep calories down without losing flavor.

Sweet potatoes vs. sweet potato casserole. Instead of candied yams or sweet potato casserole, which is often loaded with butter and sugar, make fresh sweet potatoes and offer cinnamon and sugar or sugar substitute on the side. Sweet potatoes are actually very nutritious and loaded with potassium.

Use olive oil instead of butter in recipes when possible.

Applesauce instead of butter. If you’re making a cake, you can substitute and equal amount of apple sauce for butter in the recipe, and it will still taste great with less calories.

But what if you’re visiting friends and family? How do you eat well when you’re out?

Mandarins covered with chocolate and pistachio, top viewBring a healthy dessert. It’s always polite to bring something when you visit someone’s home. So bring along a home-baked dessert. This way, when everyone is having sweets, you can partake and won’t be as tempted to eat something you shouldn’t.

And don’t forget to stay physical during the holidays. Do you tend to make a New Years resolution? Start early. Physical activity is helpful to increasing your metabolism and it also can make you feel better and help beat holiday blues.

Start taking a walk around the block each night after dinner or in the morning before work, then increase to twice around the block. It can help clear your mind and relieve the stress that is often felt during this time of year. Take the family for a walk through the neighborhood to look at the lighted houses. You can do a few blocks each night. And you won’t notice because you’ll be enjoying the view.


More Information:

AHA Holiday Healthy Eating Guide

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