Tips for a Healthy Holiday Season - from the Good Food Force!
Does it sometimes feel like that gingerbread man is looking right at you? Winking perhaps? Suggesting how awesome he'll taste in your coffee? If you're like many of us, the holidays are a time for family and food. And we love it. But as so many of us know, they can also be a time when we let go a bit, when it comes to healthy eating. Even the best intentions can waiver in the face of seemingly endless piles of cookies, cakes, yummy drinks, egg nog, party snacks, and so much more.
We asked our Good Food Force Volunteers - our group of super-moms committed to healthy kids and families - for some tips for surviving the holiday season. Please check out their empowering ideas, below, and suggest your own tips for making the holiday season healthy in the comments!
- Eat a light snack before hitting the parties. If you are hungry, you are more likely to head for the snack table and start filling up on calorie dense foods even before dinner is served. By arriving satisfied, you will more likely skip the appetizers and make healthier choices during dinner further reducing the calories you consume. - Sarene
- I make sure everyone is getting adequate sleep, limit their sugar intake, and supplement with Vitamin D, since we are in the sun less during the holiday season. - Trisha
- We bring a "healthy" dessert with us that I know my kids will eat when we are invited anywhere where there will likely be food served. It's good to have a few fool proof recipes that are healthy enough that your family can indulge in and not get sick from, but that other's will eat as well. Since my family has food allergies, this is usually a gluten free roll out cookie made with a limited amount of natural sweeteners, like sucanat, or a grain free chocolate coconut cupcake sweetened with maple syrup. - Trisha
- Do not drink your calories. Yes, the pumpkin lattes and mint mochas tempt us numerous times a day but giving into them is not the way to go. High in fat, sugar and sometimes even salt, they are not only bad for your waistline but for your heart as well. - Sarene
- We are working on extra dog walks at home; having walking meetings at work and always keeping added sugar intake down. - Christina
- Try as best you can to stick to your regular (or at least a consistent) routine. It's so easy for things to get hectic around the holidays and next thing you know, you're pressed for time and making poor food choices (fast-food drive-through, snacks instead of a real meal, etc). - Melissa
- I always ask the host what she/he needs and try to put my own healthy spin on whatever it is I bring. -Trisha
- Don't be so hard on yourself and try to live up to unrealistic expectations. Although it may seem like everyone around you is making homemade, perfect-looking treats and other "Pinterest-y" projects, if you put pressure on yourself and stay up too late or rush around trying to make everything perfect, you're more likely to stress eat or not eat or, again, make poor food choices for yourself and your family. - Melissa
- More about mindset than actual food ideas - but staying positive can make a huge difference. It's so easy to slip into "oh, it's the holidays, I'll be good after the new year" but it's so much harder to get back on track! - Melissa
- Trade off, try to compensate for over eating by cutting back calories when you can. Skip dessert, have a light lunch on days you are invited out or try fresh vegetables and fruits for snacks instead of the usual granola bar of bag of chips. - Sarene
- We started a new family tradition this year, running in our city's Turkey Trot a 5K/10K walk/run on Thanksgiving morning. A lot of cities have them. It was super fun, great exercise and everyone felt better sitting down to a large meal later in the day! - Nancy
- I would add that when you cook holiday food or treats (any time of year actually!), use healthy and nutrient dense ingredients such as healthy fats (butter, coconut oil, etc.) instead of vegetable oil; maple syrup, honey or sucanat instead of sugar; sprouted whole wheat flour instead of white flour; whole milk instead of reduced fat, etc. Also I do think its nice to have some sweets at the holidays, so make some special delicious and healthy ones at home instead of eating store-bought junk. This makes for great and meaningful traditions too. - Shannon
- I always volunteer to bring dessert for gatherings. That way, I can make sure it's something dairy and soy free that my son can have, as well as something that manages to be both healthy AND yummy! I routinely swap out at least half the regular flour for whole wheat flour (and I use unbleached for the regular), double the number of eggs but only use the whites, and use applesauce instead of oil and butter. - Amber
- As a mom, I also make sure that I always stuff some healthy, allergy friendly snacks in my bag before we leave the house. If you have healthy options readily available, it's easier to make good choices. - Amber
- Exercise and make your workouts a priority so you do not let them slip during the holidays. Research shows exercise is a key player in weight maintenance. - Sarene
- Be generous, when invited to a gathering make sure to take a low calorie, healthy dish you enjoy. This way there will always be an option you like waiting when other high calorie dishes tempt you. - Sarene