How To Eat Healthy During The Holidays

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Most people are aware that the holiday season is a time during which it is all too easy to put on weight. The logical thing most people think to do is to avoid sweets or other fattening foods during all those big family meals. Other people try to opt for what they deem to be the healthier holiday food options.

The majority of us, however, simply say “Why bother?” and chow down on whatever is available during the festivities. It can seem very difficult to make responsible dietary decisions during this time of year. But the truth is that if you arm yourself with the right knowledge, you will not have to choose between delicious meals and staying thin. In this handy guide, we’ll list the healthiest food options for this time of year, as well as tips for avoiding foods that appear to be healthy, but actually pack on the pounds.


1. Let’s talk meats

For most holiday meals, a large roast of some kind will be the main course—usually a turkey or ham, but sometimes people opt for a duck or goose instead. Regardless of which species you choose to dine upon, there are some parts of any animal that are healthier than others. If you’re concerned about calories and fat intake, you don’t have to forgo meat altogether. Opt for the white meat cuts instead of dark meat, which is greasier and fattier (although admittedly more flavorful).


2. Stuffing

If you are concerned about carbs, this is one item you might want to pass on. Carbohydrate consumption is discouraged in many weight loss diets such as the Atkins or Paleo diets. The stuffing used in Thanksgiving and Christmas meals is filled with carbs and probably not a good idea for people trying to lose weight. Portion size is the most important thing to keep in mind, though. If you have a little stuffing on the side, it’s not the end of the world, but just be mindful of how much you’re eating.

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3. Greens

Every holiday meal should include at least some greens on the side. Steamed or roasted green vegetables like Brussel sprouts, broccoli, collards, or asparagus make an excellent addition to the mountain of protein and carbs on most holiday tables. Rich in vitamins A and C, as well as fiber and antioxidants, these green veggies should be a regular part of your diet anyway, and the holiday season is no reason to abstain from them.


4. Sweet potatoes versus regular taters

Potatoes are generally considered a healthy food. This is especially if the mineral-rich skin is still on them, though most families opt for creamy white mashed potatoes during the holiday season. If you have the option, however, go for sweet potatoes instead. These large orange veggies have a much richer flavor than white potatoes, and are an excellent source of vitamin A, as well as vitamin B-6, potassium and fiber.

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5. Nuts

Chestnuts roasting over an open fire is a classic holiday image, and if you haven’t hopped on board the nut train yet, now is the perfect time to start. Walnuts, Brazil nuts, almonds, cashews, pecans, and chestnuts are all great-tasting and healthy snack options, as they are high in minerals like selenium and more.

Be sure to opt for unsalted nuts if you have problems with high blood pressure, as excess sodium has been shown to contribute to hypertension. (Note—peanuts are not nuts, not matter what you’ve heard, so they are not included here. Go for one of the other options listed above instead.)


6. Take it easy with the pie

There is an abundance of sugar-filled candies and baked goods available this time of year, and it is very easy to get carried away. The next thing you know, you’ve packed on 10 pounds and you’re not sure how the heck it happened. While it is outside the scope of this article to go into too much detail, the truth is that modern science has shown that it is the consumption of sugar, much more so than naturally occurring fat, that causes people to put on weight. With this knowledge in mind, be aware of how much sugary food you are eating this time of year.

It is okay to have a nice slice of pie after dinner, but just have one, and eat slowly so you can actually savor it and enjoy the taste. Respond to internal cues to stop eating rather than external ones. What this means is that you should stop eating when you feel full, and not continue simply because there is still food in front of you.


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Follow these simple steps and you can have a delicious and non-fattening holiday season. Enjoy!