This article was written by Lilia Smelkova of Food Day and is shared with the permission of the author.
Even though we’re celebrating, it’s important to eat real, healthy foods throughout the holiday season. This special time of the year is filled with parties, celebrations, and ample opportunities to indulge. According to a study from The New Journal England of Medicine, the average weight gain during the holidays is about a pound, and most people never shed that weight.
Fortunately, there’s a wealth of tips and other information available for healthy eating during the holidays, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate Holiday Makeover, Helpful Tips for Healthy Holiday Parties from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and the American Heart Association’s Seasonal, Heart-Healthy Holiday Foods. Here are five of our favorite tips for eating real throughout the holidays:
- Revamp traditional recipes with healthier ingredients. For example, use whole wheat flour in recipes instead of white flour, use Greek yogurt instead of sour cream, and use applesauce or mashed banana instead of vegetable oil in baking.
- Pack your shopping cart with fresh fruits and veggies like sweet potatoes, winter squash, and green beans. Roasted veggies (Brussels sprouts, carrots, and many others) make delicious side dishes. And flavorful veggies don’t need lots of creamy or sugary sauces — they taste great on their own! Apples, cranberries, pears, and other fruits combine for a tasty salad or fruit crisp.
- Drinks have calories, too. Choose water, seltzer, or another low- or no-calorie option whenever possible. Try adding fruits (like lemon, lime, or berries) to water to make it fun and flavorful.
- When eating out at restaurants, let the manager know you care about fair labor for food workers. Ask if employees are paid a living wage and get paid sick days (an important factor in food safety!) and reward establishments that treat their workers well. For more information, check out the ROC National Diners’ Guide.
- This holiday season, focus most on spending time with family and friends and less on food. Go for a walk after meals to burn some extra calories and be sure to get plenty of sleep.