Start your holiday meal with smart food choices. Begin with soup, fresh veggies or a salad and avoid unhealthy appetizers, such as those filled with refined flour, to prevent cravings. Look for the vegetable tray and other healthy options for snacks or appetizers. If you volunteer to bring a dish to every gathering you attend, you can guarantee there will be a healthy choice.
Kill the sugar cravings. Speaking of cravings, sometimes when your body craves one thing, it really needs another. When your brain tells you it needs sugar, NOW, it may be because of a lack of protein in your diet. Eat plenty of protein and aim for approximately 15 grams per meal. Another way to cut down on sugar cravings is to eliminate caffeine to help you get the sleep you need. Too little quality sleep hurts your decision-making ability and makes you crave sugar and carbs. Cravings and impaired decision-making cause you to eat more sugary foods. We know that cutting out caffeine helps boost your quality and quantity of sleep, leaving you refreshed instead of famished.
Healthy swaps. Eat healthy and enjoy your time with loved ones. You cannot eat healthy eating unhealthy food! Swap cauliflower mash and mushroom gravy for traditional mashed potatoes and gravy. Pumpkin pie can be made by substituting healthier ingredients and reducing the amount of sugar. Focus on getting more vegetables like butternut squash soup, Brussels sprouts and green beans instead of the high-fat casseroles. A good holiday motto is, “If it’s white, don’t bite.” That means white sugar, sugar substitutes and white flour should be exchanged for high fiber, nutrient packed alternatives like dates and quinoa. I also urge you to shift to less calorie dense foods such as apples and celery, instead of rich, sugary, calorie dense foods like pecan pie.
Download Mushroom Gravy Recipe
Download Mashed Cauliflower Recipe
Avoid or limit alcohol. Alcohol reduces your inhibitions and can lead you down a slippery slope of making bad choices. Most types of alcohol are also filled with sugar and empty calories. If you’re looking for a good swap, try our recipe for holiday nog. If you do choose to drink alcohol, make it red wine instead of mixed drinks. Limit any alcohol to one or two 4- to 6-oz. glasses. After that, switch to sparkling water with lemon or lime. Alcohol increases dehydration, so be sure to drink plenty of regular, filtered water throughout the day.
Remember your goals. Think about the way you want to feel before you hit those holiday parties and dinners. Sometimes treating yourself to sugary and other pleasurable foods is what the moment calls for. However, most of the time, you will feel better if you do not indulge in these foods. Instead of waiting for New Year’s Eve to dedicate yourself to healthy eating and a regular exercise routine, start those healthier habits now. Incorporate delicious veggies and fun workouts into your holiday celebrations. Remember your long-term goals now and you’ll have a month’s head start on all those January detoxes.