Most of us love the holidays. It means spending time with family and friends, putting up festive decorations at home, and enjoying an overall sense of coziness, happiness and togetherness. The holiday season also means lots of eating and drinking. Which is great. Except when it’s not. So how can you celebrate the holidays without gaining Santa-level weight? Glad you asked. Here are some of my tried-and-true steps that will help you remain in control while still celebrating all season long. Healthy holidays!
Be realistic. Instead of trying to lose weight during the holidays, make it your goal to simply maintain your weight. This way, you can keep yourself on track without going crazy counting calories.
Squeeze in some time for exercise. Take a little walk during your lunch break at least a few times a week. Or park farther away in the parking lot during your holiday shopping. You’ll relieve stress and keep your metabolism going.
Don’t go starving to the party. Before a holiday soiree, have a light snack such as hummus with crudité or a handful of mixed nuts. You won’t feel as tempted by all the food if you’re already somewhat satisfied.
Curb your (eating) enthusiasm. Just because it’s all-you-can-eat doesn’t mean you should. Choose more veggies and lean proteins rather than salty chips and sugar-laden cookies and snacks. Don’t load up on food just because it’s there — you have the rest of your life to eat.
Think before you drink. If you can’t imagine partying without booze, try opting for lower-calorie spirits like vodka; or enjoy a glass of red wine, which actually has some health benefits. Also, keep in mind that just because it’s alcohol-free doesn’t mean you’re scot-free — a lot of mocktails and fruity drinks are loaded with sugar and calories. I really like La Croix sparkling water, which comes in different natural flavors and has zero sodium and calories.
Don’t beat yourself up. You can almost guarantee you’re going to overeat at least once during the holidays. If you do, don’t freak out. Just go lighter on the next meal. This is a good way to try to balance yourself both mentally and physically. Remember: It takes 500 calories per day above what you normally eat to gain a pound, so eating that extra cookie isn’t going to do you in.
Add more vegan options to holiday cooking. When baking your favorite sugar cookies and cakes, try using butter alternatives like Earth Balance (it tastes the same without all the fat or cholesterol!) and non-dairy milks from almond or cashew. If you’re making tamales, do NOT use lard (gross!) and opt for veggie fillings instead of meat; you can also just include less meat and add more veggies. The bottom line: Simple ingredient swaps go a long way to make your holiday recipes healthier.