We preach all good things in moderation and are totally anti-calorie obsessing. However, the holidays can be a bit of a healthy eating disaster if you’re not prepared and informed. Which is why we love these holiday eating tips from the fitness experts at Life Fitness. The average holiday meal can easily rack up 3,000 to 3,500 calories, so be sure to follow these tips to help avoid those hidden holiday calories!
7 Tips to Avoid Hidden Holiday Calories
1. Think before you drink. We often drink more calories during the holidays than we realize. Eggnog, juice in cocktails, and cream-based drinks can really add up. Drink in moderation, and think about the content of your drink. Try lower-calorie drink options like sparkling water with a lemon or lime, and choose a glass of wine over a sugar-laced cocktail. Make sure you drink a glass of water between each alcoholic drink.
2. Identify healthy alternatives to some of your holiday favorites. Try substituting sweet potatoes instead of mashed potatoes and gravy, pumpkin pie instead of pecan pie, and roasted turkey without the skin.
3. Watch your portions. Load your plate up with vegetables and lean turkey (try this healthy turkey recipe!). Eat less of the high-calorie foods like casseroles, breads and desserts. A serving is typically the size of a deck of cards or your iPhone. Also, try putting your appetizers on a plate to see what you are eating rather than continually grazing by the table.
4. Select real, fresh foods. Cranberries are full of antioxidants, but the canned kind are packed with sugar and calories. Sweet potatoes have a lot of vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium and fiber, and you can add flavor such as cinnamon or nutmeg. Desserts made of baked apples or poached pears can be lighter options than typical desserts with candied nuts and chocolate. And don’t forget the pumpkin! Pumpkin is a low-fat, low-calorie food with potassium, vitamin A and vitamin C. Yum!
5. Revamp your stuffing. Make a lower-carb stuffing by using more veggies like onions and celery or even dried fruits. Use less bread, and skip the sausage and butter. You can also add extra nutrients by choosing whole-grain breads.
6. Space out your helpings. Take smaller portions, and always remember that you can have more the next day. Holidays are about spending time with friends and family, so make a conscious effort to take a break between bites and enjoy the conversation.
7. Move it! Start the holiday off by walking or running in a Turkey Trot race or simply meeting some family members for a bit of holiday exercise. Try getting your metabolism elevated for the day by taking a walk outside or playing a game of flag football a few hours after the holiday feast.
Enjoy the holidays with smart choices and your body will thank you come January 1! A big thanks to Life Fitness for the tips. What foods will you splurge on this holiday season? —Jenn