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3 Easy Tips to Maintain Your Health During the Holidays

3 Easy Tips to Maintain Your Health During the Holidays



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Between running through the airport and making sure your trans-continental gift packages arrive on time, your overall health and well-being shouldn't be compromised. Here, we put together our top tips for maintaining your health and staying active over the next several weeks.

Plan Ahead Before Travelling

For many people, the chain reaction of unhealthy eating begins as you step out of the office for your holiday break. And as hard as it is to maintain a healthy diet during the holidays, it's even harder to get back on track once you've let yourself go. So practice healthy habits from the get-go and make sure to plan ahead before you even start travelling; pack hunger-curbing snacks like whole grain bagels, apples, tangerines and grapes to bring with you to the airport and on your road trip.

If amidst all the chaos you forget to pack snacks beforehand, that shouldn't be an excuse to make a beeline for the grease-saturated chains at the airport. Opt instead for the plenty of healthy choices on the way to the gate like granola bars, yogurt, salads, and nuts. If you're spending time on the road to get to your holiday destination, avoid drive-throughs when hunger calls and instead head to grocery stores. There are plenty of healthy, pre-made options at local markets, from salads to sandwiches to sushi. You'll feel much more satisfied eating a healthy meal packed with fiber and protein than you would by scarfing down a greasy burger and fries.

Eat Before the Party

Once you've reached your destination, make it a point to eat up before you head out to holiday parties. Making sure you eat a healthy, filling meal before you go out to celebrate will help deter you from making a meal of the cookies, cheese balls, and abundance of cocktails. Making sure you up your fiber intake to 25-38 grams per day (most of us do not meet the daily recommended amount) will help keep you full and satisfied and will help your digestive tract during the eat-and-drinkathon that is the holidays.

Never show up to a party hungry: instead of grazing on the decadent hors d'oeuvres and desserts all night long, put just a few on a plate to enjoy while chatting with family members. Additionally, setting a curfew for yourself will help prevent consuming more junk food and high calorie drinks into the wee hours of the morning, and will also help give your digestive tract a break before brunch the next day.

Maintain a Consistent Exercise Routine

Sticking with a regular workout routine will make it easier to keep up your healthy habits instead of spending your vacation in your pajamas. Exercising early in the morning is a great way to kick-start your day, it gives you the rest of your day to spend with family and friends and helps you feel less guilty about all the holiday treats you're likely to consume. Recruiting a workout buddy also makes it easier to stay on track by having a workout buddy who will hold you accountable, you're more likely to show up instead of pressing snooze on your alarm clock. Other ways to stay in shape include playing with the kids in the back yard or having a dance party in the living room. Make it a family affair, and make it fun!


Giada's 5 Tips For Staying Healthy During The Holidays

The holidays tend to be synonymous with overindulgence, and while we won’t be saying no to some of the season’s best treats, there is definitely a fine line between consciously enjoying food and over-eating for the heck of it! Many of us look at it as a time to go wild and think about eating clean again in the New Year, but you can 100% enjoy all of the holiday festivities while maintaining a healthy attitude and lifestyle. Besides – nobody feels good waking up the day after indulging on a few too many Christmas cookies and glasses of wine. Take the bloat and sluggishness out of the equation, and you’ll likely might enjoy the holidays even more!

These are Giada’s tips for staying healthy during the holidays – and we promise they’re totally doable!

1. Goodbye, holiday hangover! When I talk about staying healthy during the holidays, it’s not just about the food – the drinking plays a big part! In our family’s Italian celebrations, the vino and amaro are always flowing, and it can get hard to keep track of how much you’ve been drinking. My trick is to always alternate between a cocktail or wine with a glass of sparkling water – the worst parts of a hangover are due to your body being dehydrated, after all. Additionally, excess of alcohol is also proven to increase the risk of breast cancer in women – so while I still like to embrace the celebrations, I always limit it to 3 drinks tops. Also, always chug down some water before you go to sleep. Sleep dehydrates you anyway, and alcohol in your system only makes it worse… so keep the hydration going!

2. Embrace the good fat – take it easy on the sugar! Take it from me, a total sugar addict – I fully understand how hard it is to limit consumption of sweets during the holidays. It is so hard for me to stay away from all the cookies and chocolates! For those who share the same struggle, my tip is to embrace fats instead of sugar at holiday gatherings… they’ll fill you up and actually keep you full, without the sugar crash! Of course, it’s best to choose healthier fats when possible- olives, hummus, dishes cooked in olive oil, etc, but even if you dip into the cheese and charcuterie board, it’s always smarter to eat more fats and nutrient-dense foods as opposed to going crazy on the sweets.

3. Bring intermittent fasting into the mix (2 days on, 1 day off). I’m a huge fan of intermittent fasting, and setting a guideline for yourself can make it easier to not overindulge. I recommend trying overnight intermittent fasting for 14 hours (you should hopefully be sleeping for half that time anyway!) and giving yourself a 10 hour window during the day where you can eat. For example, if I tell myself that I’ll stop eating at 8pm and start eating again at 10am the next morning, I have that structure locked in so that I know I can’t be eating late at night (AKA – I won’t be in the kitchen eating leftover dessert!). This gives your digestive system a break to rest and repair, and for me, it also improves my mental clarity, makes me feel less sluggish, and helps regulate blood sugar. The key is to do it for one or two days, then take a day off. Give it a try!

4. Have a super nutritious shake or smoothie in the morning. This one is especially important for moms or busy bees during the holiday season. During the holidays, you can have strings of days in a row that you’re going out to lunches with family and attending parties at night – basically, you give up a lot of control over your diet! For this reason, I think it’s a great idea to load up your breakfast – one meal you can control – with lots of nutrition. That way, you know you’re at least getting one meal that’s fueling your body for the better. My current favorites are my almond strawberry smoothie, and ginger green smoothie!

5. Move whenever you can, wherever you can! Our workout schedules can get a little bit foggy during this season… and that’s ok! You might not be going to all your regularly scheduled classes or hitting the gym as much, but you can still take advantage of little moments to get moving. For example, I like to do simple yoga moves in the middle of cooking (a quick Warrior 3 pose in the photo above!) to keep my blood flowing and my body from getting sore. It can be as little as going on a walk (a good excuse to see the Christmas lights!), doing a little dance, or even doing a few jumping jacks to warm up your entire system. I also think there’s a ton of importance in breathing, and always urge people to take a really deep belly breath whenever you can think to do it.

Remember, the holidays are a time to enjoy all of the lovingly-cooked food and indulge a bit, so don’t let yourself feel guilty over it – a bit of a Christmas cookie hangover is inevitable at this time of year, but it’s always good to stay mindful of your health… regardless of the season!


11 Tips for Staying Fit During the Holidays

With all the excitement of the holidays, exercise usually gets crossed off the list. Instead of being naughty with your regimen, try these expert tips for staying on track.

Registered dietitian and certified specialist in sports dietetics Lindsey Pine suggests signing up for seasonal activities. “To keep one consistently active during the holidays, I recommend signing up for athletic events such as fun runs, half marathons or obstacle course races," she says. "Not only is there an end goal to work towards, but they're great to do in teams with friends and loved ones.”

Connecticut-based dietitian Lori Sullivan recommends getting off the couch and enlisting the entire family. "Plan an activity that gets everyone moving: flag football, Frisbee, hoops, hopscotch, jump rope (double dutch), a walk or hike," she says. "Sitting around watching parades and football is not an activity."

“After lunch and dinner, we go for a mini walk around the block (or office/house if the weather is too severe),” says Sarah Koszyk founder of Family. Food. Fiesta. “Even if it's only 10 minutes or less, we do our best to move and it's a great time to talk.”

“Morning jogs are a must during the holidays,” says Caroline Susie, R.D. “That 20 minutes helps me manage holiday stress and burn a few additional calories for holiday treats (or, in my case, holiday drinks!).” Follow Caroline on Twitter @carolinesusieRD.

Wellness blogger Jessica Serdikoff’s tip helps you make the most of your holiday shopping. “If you find yourself going shopping, everyone tells you to park far away (and you'll probably have to with the crowds!). But why not also take one to two power-walking laps around the mall or shopping center before hitting the stores? You'll get your heart rate up and scope out all your options at the same time,” she says.

If the cold weather really deters you from exercise, sports dietitian Deb Iovoli points out there are some activities you can do in the warmth of your house. “Incorporate strength training into workouts," she says. "[I have] a pull-up [bar] in my bedroom for pull-ups and ab workouts (knees to elbows). If you are headed out, add some strength training to your cardio routine. . During a run outside, I will run two to three minutes, do 25 squats, run two to three minutes, do 25 push-ups, run two to three minutes, do 25 lunges, run two to three minutes, do 25 dips on a bench (or whatever I can find) — repeat two to four times. [It's] better than just a run.”

Considering the flowing cocktails and decadent foods, it’s easy to see how hydration can fall by the wayside. Amy von Sydow Green uses her dual degrees in nutrition and medicine for her recommendation. “Stay hydrated," she says. "Try sipping on green or herbal tea to warm up. . Holding something in your hand may help you stay off that cookie platter.”

Kristin Smith of 360FamilyNutrition suggests having a game plan and committing to it. “Each week come up with an exercise plan and schedule it as an important appointment in your calendar,” she says.

A reward system or some good old-fashioned competition may be the key to your fitness success. Lara Felton says: “Exercise gets tough during the holidays, so my sister and I have a run 1 mile challenge each year where you run at least 1 mile a day from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day. And if you miss a day, you pay the other person $3. It gets me out the door each day and usually I end up running more than 1 mile.”

Author of Belly Fat Diet For Dummies Erin Palinski-Wade recommends easy-to-use fitness tools. “Use a fitness tracker, such as a simple pedometer, to track and increase your steps every day of the holiday season," she says. "Remember, exercise is cumulative. It’s the total amount of movement by the end of the day that matters the most.”

Mandy Unanski Enright recommends setting a goal and having a loved one help hold you accountable. “Since it’s the holidays, why not set up a reward system to earn a present for yourself come Jan. 1? Set a goal of how many times you’d like to work out each week (be realistic!), and mark down on your calendar every time you complete a workout," she says. "If you meet your goal by Jan. 1, then you’ve earned that item you’ve had your eye on. Make sure to tell those close to you, like your spouse, about your plan so they can keep you both motivated and honest.”

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition.


5 Tips to Maintain Your Mental Health During the Holidays

The holidays are a lovely time of year, a welcome respite from everyday life. But they do face their own challenges. This year in particular, celebrations are marked with COVID-19’s effects on our lives. This increased stress can take a toll on your mental health. Taking a few steps and setting a few mindsets now can go a long way when it comes to coping effectively and helping you stay focused on what really matters this holiday season.

  1. Recognize and accept your loved ones for who they are
    You probably already know how your family members act during the holidays. You know which cousins make you feel insecure by flaunting their successes and which grandparent has a tendency to make things more stressful than you’d like. Remember, no one is going to change just because it’s the holidays . In fact, prepare for them to turn those normal behaviors up a notch with the added stress of the past year and the destabilizing effects of COVID-19 . Let go of the idea that you can change who they are or how they act.
    Instead, find doable ways to retain those relationships while minimizing the impact of their actions on your life. Focus on finding joy for yourself within your social circle. Put time and energy into the people whose presence and actions make you happy, and on the people who know how to love you.
  2. Get comfortable setting boundaries and saying “no”
    Don’t commit to activities you aren’t comfortable with, and don’t agree to more social engagements than you can handle. Saying yes when you feel overwhelmed can make you resentful and robs you of joy. Your true friends, family, and colleagues will understand that you can’t do everything. And if someone throws a fit that you won’t be participating in a traditional in-person gathering or don’t feel up for yet another Zoom Christmas party, recognize that their reaction says more about their state of mind than how they feel about you.
  3. Continue making healthy habits a priority
    It’s easy to lose routine during the holidays – especially now, when so many people already feel disconnected from their “normal” pre-COVID routines. Be patient with yourself and accept that you might not be at the top of your game.
    At the same time, set limits. Prioritize sleep. Maintain your normal exercise routine. Limit your alcohol intake. Incorporate healthy foods into your holiday diet, especially if you know you’ll indulge later. And if you catch yourself getting agitated from social media, take a break from your Instagram account.
  4. Appreciate the moment you’re in
    Holidays are emotional they can dredge up distant memories you don’t normally think about. When facing sadness, grief, or anger, it’s easy to push those feelings down and tell yourself “I’ll deal with it later.” Instead, acknowledge your feelings . Let yourself work through them at your own pace.
    On the flip side, when you find yourself experiencing pleasant emotions, let yourself enjoy them. Appreciate good things as they happen . Even though there’s a lot going on in the world right now, it’s important to let yourself feel joy when you can.
  5. Seek professional help if you need it
    The holidays are notoriously difficult times for mental and physical health. They can flare up anxiety, depression, or any other condition you’re used to living with. If you find yourself struggling with insomnia, feeling irritable or hopeless, beset by unusual physical discomfort, or unable to face day-to-day reality, listen to your body and mind. Don’t wait until the holidays are over reach out to your doctor or mental health professional.
    Therapists at McLean Counseling Center are here to help. If you’re struggling, reach out to our office by phone (703-821-1073) or request a free consultation at mcleancounselingcenter.com.

With all the good things the holiday season brings us, it also brings challenges. Hopefully these simple, doable tips help you stay in a positive mindset so you can focus on enjoying everything the winter months have to offer. After the year we’ve all had, we all certainly deserve it.


Tips to Maintain Your Energy During the Holidays

With hectic holiday schedules, it is easy to start feeling tired and run down, especially if you find you are losing precious time for sleep or not getting sufficient essential vitamins in your diet.

A Gallup survey found more than 75 percent of adults lose at least 3 hours of sleep every week during the months of November and December. Almost half of those surveyed attributed sleep loss to the increased stress they experienced during the holiday season. In addition to losing sleep, many people find the quality of their sleep lacking during the holidays, which increases the likelihood they will feel weary.

Some of the sources of stress during the holiday season people commonly report include:

  • Financial concerns about either not having enough money to buy gifts for loved ones or spending too much money during holiday sales
  • The planning, shopping, and rush involved in hosting holiday parties
  • Missing family members and loved ones who have died
  • Conflicts with family members or friends
  • Overscheduling parties, shopping trips, and other obligations

We want to help you find ways to enjoy the holiday season! Here are some tips to minimize holiday stress and avoid sleepless nights:

  • When planning your schedule, prioritize errands, appointments, and parties, and then add 30 minutes to an hour to your original estimate of how long the particular task or event will last. This will allow you to have extra time in case you get stuck in heavy holiday traffic or to just take a break to relax.
  • When you go shopping, take only enough cash to cover the cost of the items you have planned and budgeted to purchase.
  • Share your grief with other family members with friends. Consider finding a way to celebrate the person's life with others.
  • If you are going to a gathering where you anticipate running into someone with whom you have had conflicts in the past, bring a friend along who can deflect any inflammatory remarks. Alternatively, if you find yourself in a situation where tension appears to be building, remove yourself from the situation.
  • Focus on the elements of joy and happiness of the season – spending time with loved ones, the natural beauty of fall and winter, and being thankful for all the blessings in your life!

In the event you still find yourself having restless nights during the holiday season, try taking an all-natural sleep aid containing ingredients such as chamomile, L-tryptophan, and valerian. You will find you will get the rest you need without worrying about feeling too drowsy in the morning or developing a dependency on the sleep aid. Many times people find they do not eat a diet with all the nutrients they need to feel energized during the holidays. For example, if you do not get a sufficient amount of B-Vitamins or Vitamin C, you will likely feel lethargic and struggle to get through all of your holiday parties and shopping. When you take a Vitamin B supplement and a Vitamin C supplement, you can be sure to have the energy to get through the busy holiday season.

REFERENCES
1. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_pwwi/is_20050229/ai_mark4277690966/?tag=contentcol1
2. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003088.htm
3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3273429/
4. http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB12-HealthProfessional/

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Keep your health habits on track during the holidays

It's November, time for Thanksgiving and the start of the holiday season, which is also known as the time of year when healthy habits slide off track and waistbands get tighter.

"The truth is, people do tend to abandon healthy habits during the winter," says Dr. Beth Frates, clinical assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School. Blame the cold weather that keeps you inside and makes you feel sluggish, or the parade of holiday parties. Who wants to stick to a diet or trudge to the gym?

While many people who indulge a little too much during the holiday season are able to refocus in January, others never regain the fitness ground they've lost or drop the pounds they've added. But it doesn't have to be this way. If you're committed to maintaining your health goals, there are some simple strategies that can help keep you moving in the right direction through the holidays and beyond, says Dr. Frates.

Change your focus. The holiday season is a wonderful time to work on cultivating quality connections with family, friends, and colleagues. Instead of seeing it as a series of parties where you can indulge in food and drink, focus instead on improving relationships and making memories.

"It's not as much about filling your stomach with fine food as it is about filling your heart with the love of those around you," says Dr. Frates.

Partake (in moderation). Focusing on maintaining your health goals doesn't have to mean going without any indulgences it just means setting some limits.

"If you do drink alcohol, stick to the American Heart Association guidelines," says Dr. Frates. This means no more than one drink per day for women. "When you have too many beverages, you lose track of your drive to fuel your body with nutritious and delicious food," says Frates.

Don't pause workouts. "Everyone gets busy during the holidays, and often, the first thing to go is their workout plan. This is what NOT to do," says Dr. Fatima Cody Stanford, assistant professor of medicine and pediatrics at Harvard Medical School.

"A regular workout schedule of at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity will not only help relieve stress, it will lead to better weight regulation during a time when calorie-dense foods are the norm."

Try a new activity. A fun, new workout can inspire you to get moving when the cold weather hits. Options include both indoor and outdoor activities. If you are a tennis player, try to find an indoor space where you can continue to play during the winter months, says Dr. Frates. If you're a walker, head to the mall to do some laps. The holidays are a great time to experiment, whether it's trying a Zumba class or swimming laps in an indoor pool. Gyms and clubs often offer deals during the holidays, so take advantage.

Enlist your friends and family. Take the opportunity to connect socially and boost your fitness by trying a class with a friend or family member. Exercise is always more fun if it doubles as a social activity.

Gear up for activity. Putting together your own wish list for the holidays? Add some fitness items — maybe a set of hand weights or a portable minicycle that you can use while you sit at your desk or watch television at night. Or ask for a cooking class so you can learn how to make some healthy meals.

Proper winter clothing can make it possible for you to enjoy the cold weather without feeling the chill.

"As the old New England saying goes, there's no such thing as bad weather, there's just inappropriate clothing," says Frates.

Track your habits. Food logs, activity trackers, fitness watches, or even a simple calendar are good ways to keep tabs on how often you are exercising. Tracking your daily progress can make you more conscious of your health habits and alert you when you're starting to slide.

Skip the shame. If you go off track during the holiday season, don't give up.

"If you do have a day that doesn't go as planned and you revel and have excessive fun, use it as an opportunity to learn and grow, set a new goal, and move forward," says Dr. Frates.

Waving the white flag in defeat will just make it harder for you to get back on track when the New Year rolls around.

Image: gilaxia/Getty Images


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As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

Comments

Great tips for the holiday indeed! But as someone stated before most people don’t want to look out for certain kinds of food when they are on vacation

I am from England and watched a BBC documentary which I believe would still be on youtube by now. This documentary examined a diet being studied in the USA where a subject is limited to 600 calories per day for 3 days a week but can be modified to 2 days a week. Every other day the person is restricted to a normal daily intake. This not only reduced the weight of the person but changed the body chemistry when tested. One subject was pre-diabetic before the diet and reverted back to normal after the trial which i believe was 3 months. To read the article in full which is more of an editorial see BBC2 Horizon programme


Healthy Holiday Food and Diet Tips

Try these 10 tips to reduce calories at holiday parties.

As much as we look forward to holiday parties and dinners, many of us fear enjoying it too much – and packing on the pounds.

Indeed, the average American consumes approximately 4,500 calories and 229 grams fat from eating a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. And that doesn’t include breakfast, lunch, or late-night snacking on leftovers.

Studies show that the average American gains 1 to 2 pounds during the holiday season. And, those extra pounds tend to become permanent baggage. Year after year, those pounds can add up, and contribute to overweight or obesity later in life.

Although we may not all gain weight over the holidays, there is no question we tend to eat and drink more -- and exercise less. With the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping, parties and festive traditions, healthy eating and exercise are usually the first things to go.

No one wants to be on a strict diet during the holidays. We want to enjoy the bounty of traditional favorite foods. How can you enjoy the holidays without gaining weight? Dietitians say it’s not so hard, with a little planning.

  • First, if you’ve been trying to lose weight, when mid-November rolls around, shift your focus from weight loss to weight maintenance. “The holiday season is tough enough to just maintain your weight let alone try to lose weight. So do yourself a favor,” says Joan Salge Blake, MS, RD, Boston University clinical assistant professor. “Allow yourself a few treats and set your goal on weight maintenance so you can enjoy the holiday foods and wait until the New Year to get back on your weight loss plan.”
  • Second, if you are the host of dinners and parties, trim calories wherever you can without compromising tradition or flavor. You’ll help everyone enjoy the bountiful food without packing on the pounds. Keep in mind, experts say, it is much harder to lose weight than it is not to gain it in the first place.

Here are 10 tips to lighten up your holiday meals.

1. Shop Smart for Healthy Holidays

Continued

Plan your menu to include plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean meats, seafood, whole grains, and low-fat dairy.

Consult the nutrition label to choose foods rich in nutrients but lower in fat, calories, and sugar.

To shave calories, go easy when adding nuts, cheese, cream sauces, gravy, butter, and whipped cream.

2. Start the Party Light

Most appetizers tend to be loaded with calories. And it is so easy to over eat them before the meal.

Make it easier on your guests by offering light and satisfying appetizers. For tempting yet healthy appetizers, offer shrimp cocktails, whole-grain crackers with reduced-fat cheese, vegetables with a low-fat yogurt dip, or fresh fruit skewers.

3. Harness the Diet Power of Produce

Add more simple vegetable and fruit dishes to your menu instead of heavy dishes with sauces. Your guests will fill up on healthy fiber without lots of extra calories.

For example, green bean almandine with a squeeze of lemon is healthier than traditional green bean casserole. Simple peas or corn are healthier than creamed peas or corn. But if you must have casserole, use low-fat soup, increase the veggies, and top it with a crunchy whole-grain cereal instead of fried onions.

4. Go Frozen in Winter

Fresh is usually the best when fruits and vegetables are in season. But when prices are high in winter, head to the frozen food aisle.

“Frozen fruits and vegetables are usually less expensive and can be more nutritious because they are picked at their peak ripeness and frozen immediately” says American Dietetic Association spokeswoman Sarah Krieger, RD. Buy frozen produce in bags, use only what you need, and save more by not wasting spoiled produce.

Canned foods can also be a healthy option. Read the nutrition labels to find fruits and vegetables with less added sodium and sugar, Krieger says. Reduce the sodium and sugar solutions even more by rinsing the vegetable or fruit under cold water before you cook.

5. Respect Special Requests

As you plan your holiday menu, ask if guests have any food preferences or intolerances. For example, a dear friend may be lactose intolerant. A favorite cousin may have cut red meat from his diet.

Continued

You can’t please everyone. But you can include a wide variety of healthy foods. Then, your guests can pick and choose, filling their plate with a satisfying meal no matter their food issue.

6. Shave Calories With Simple Swaps

Create healthier versions of your holiday favorites by shaving calories wherever you can.

“Simple swaps of lower-fat ingredients are easy ways to save calories -- and no one will even notice the difference” says Cheryl Forberg, RD, nutritionist for the television series, The Biggest Loser.

Use chicken stock, fat-free yogurt, light cream cheese, and low-fat milk in place of high-fat ingredients. Substitute non-fat yogurt or applesauce for oil in baked goods.

7. Roast or Grill for Rich Flavor With Fewer Calories

Roasting or grilling meat, seafood, vegetables, and potatoes, is a simple, low-calorie cooking style that brings out the natural sweetness and flavor in foods.

Roasted sweet potatoes with a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar and a spritz of butter spray are delicious substitutes for the traditional calorie-laden casserole.

Grilled pork chops served with a mango salsa are great to replace pork chops slathered in mushroom cream.

8. Serve Healthier Desserts

For dessert, try chocolate-dipped strawberries for a colorful and delicious finale.

If you want to offer pie, choose the healthier pumpkin pie. Make it with non-fat evaporated milk. Top it with fat-free whipped topping.

Eggnog and other holiday beverages can add a huge number of calories. Offer your guests plenty of low-cal beverages such as diet soda, sparkling water, or a low-calorie punch.

Alcohol releases inhibitions and can increase hunger. So do yourself and guests a favor: Offer simple alcohol choices such as wine and beer without the heavy cocktail mixers.

10. Plan and Scan to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

“In anticipation that you will be eating and drinking more than usual, try to trim your calories and make sure you fit in fitness everyday so you can enjoy a ‘controlled’ feast without the guilt” says Joan Salge Blake, MS, RD, clinical assistant professor, Boston University and American Dietetic Association spokeswoman.

Continued

“Scan the buffet and fill your plate with foods that are simply prepared, without sauces or fried, sit down and take your time to taste and savor every bite,” she says. Resist the urge to go back for more by waiting at least 20 minutes for your brain to register that you are comfortably full. If you are still hungry, eat more vegetables and drink water.

Remember, the holidays are marked with many traditions, but the real meaning is about spending time with family and friends.

If you keep these tips in mind, you'll get through the holidays without gaining a pound. And if you do splurge, don't beat yourself up, the experts say. Just get right back to normal eating and exercising, and try to do a better job at the next party.

Sources

Cheryl Forberg, RD, chef, nutritionist on The Biggest Loser television show.

Sarah Krieger, MPH, RD, American Dietetic Association spokeswoman and chef.

Joan Salge Blake, MS, RD, clinical assistant professor, Boston University and American Dietetic Association spokeswoman.


8 Ways to Reduce Food Waste During the Holidays

The holidays are a time of gathering around a table, indulging in comfort food classics and eating to your heart’s content. But unfortunately, the joy of eating is usually followed by loads of leftovers landing in the garbage bin. In 2016, nearly 6 million turkeys wound up in the trash during the holiday season, according to the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC). That’s nothing compared to the 40% of total food, or $218 billion, wasted year-round. But small changes can add up to big results over time, so make a pledge to curtail food waste this holiday season with these simple tips.

Create a Holiday Menu

Planning out meals helps you determine what you need to buy and what you may already have on hand. Make a shopping list for items that you don’t already have, and stick to it. Don’t make any impulse purchases because something looks tasty or pretty — chances are you won’t end up eating it.

Every party host worries about having enough food for their guests. This year, dismiss your worries with the ‘guest-imator’, a handy tool from the NRDC that helps you create a menu based on how many people are attending your holiday feast.

According to Whole Food’s 2018 Food Trend Report, eating root to stem is on trend for 2018. This movement encourages using the entire fruit or vegetable, including the less commonly eaten root and stem, in the cooking process. Here are some ways to incorporate lesser-used produce parts into your holiday dinner.

- Slice the stem of broccoli stalks thinly and roast in the oven until they become crispy.

- Add celery greens or carrot tops to pesto and toss atop pasta.

- Throw bitter beet greens into a salad with other lettuce and a sweet dressing.

- Roast squash seeds with olive oil and salt. They make a delicious crunchy appetizer.

- Use leftover stems, peels and cheese rinds as the base for a soup stock.

If your leftovers tend to end up in the back of the fridge, only to be thrown out a week later, it’s time to switch up your routine. Rather than microwaving leftovers for a boring repeat meal, repurpose them into something new. Here are some fun holiday twists on leftovers.

- A turkey carcass makes a great base for a soup stock.

- Once the stock is ready, add any leftover shredded turkey to the soup.

- Throw old bread in the food processor to make crumbs. Toss the crumbs with olive oil and your favorite seasoning. Toast in the oven for 10 minutes to make homemade breadcrumbs, which make a great topper for mashed potatoes.

If eating old or unfamiliar food just isn’t your thing, turn it into fertilizer. Composting doesn’t have to be scary, and you can do it year-round. Using either a large freezer bag or storage container with a lid, collect all of your leftover food scraps. If you live in an apartment, keep the compost in the freezer to contain the smell and drop off the scraps at your local farmer’s market. Or, create your own compost heap at home by following these directions from the EPA.

Perform a Food-Waste Audit

Reducing food waste may sound nice in theory, but it’s even better when you actually see how much food you save from the garbage bin and how it affects your bottom line. Conduct a food-waste audit over a two-week period. The first week, eat and throw away food as you would normally. Put a chart by the garbage bin and mark down how much food you threw away and approximately how much it cost. The next week, try to minimize your waste and repeat the exercise. Once you see how much food and money you are saving, you may be more likely to try and reduce the waste at the holidays--a time when you can really use the extra cash.

Get Creative with Ingredients

You know that week between Christmas and New Year’s when kids are home from school and tend to get bored? That’s the perfect time to host your own Chopped cooking competition. The challenge: use whatever is left in your fridge to make a new dish. No grocery shopping allowed!

Utilize Past-its-Prime Produce

Fruit and veggies looking a little wilted? Rather than throw them away to make room for your holiday feast, add them to the menu. Pureed fruit makes a great base for holiday jams. And soft veggies are the perfect addition to homemade soups or sauces. Store either in a mason jar, put a ribbon around it, and you’ve got a homemade gift!


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