I thought with social gatherings being limited this year, it would be easier to avoid the holiday treats that seem to be my seasonal downfall. I was wrong, sort of. Even though I have not attended as many in person functions this year, I am guilty of baking more on my own. My social media news feeds are filled holiday food posts, from fancy new finger foods to a twist on an old favorite. I am bombarded with temptation from every direction and apparently, I am not alone. Statistica (2019) reported a more active lifestyle and weight loss as being at the top of resolutions each year.
While Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings may look different this year, many are like me and will still bake their favorite holiday dishes. As warm and fuzzy as comfort foods make us feel, it is important to remember there may be fewer mouths to feed; and while it is tricky to stay on a healthy path during the holidays, it is not impossible. If you are like me and struggle to eat healthy and stay active during the holidays, be sure you keep the challenges this year has added in mind. However, all hope is not lost, there are a few healthy holiday tips that may help you avoid becoming a New Year’s resolution statistic.
Moderation, modification, and movement may be your best friends this holiday season. Moderation is an essential part of enjoying the tastes you crave while maintaining a healthy goal. Go ahead, enjoy the dressing or potatoes you have looked forward to for months or eat a piece of the pie you only bake once a year. Just be sure you do not to eat the entire pie. In other words, do not try to avoid the temptation, that is an uphill battle. Instead, allow yourself to indulge a little (in moderation).
Likewise, if your holiday meal went from a gathering of thirty to a gathering of four, modify what you cook so you are not facing an overabundance of leftovers. In addition to modifying the amount of food, you may also want to try your favorite dish with a healthy twist. You may be surprised at how delicious a healthy substitution can taste! The American Heart Association (2020) recommends these simple substitutions:
- Instead of 1 cup of whole milk, try 1 cup of skim milk plus one tablespoon of liquid vegetable oil.
- Instead of 1 cup heavy cream, use ½ cup low-fat yogurt.
- Instead of unsweetened baking chocolate (1-ounce), try 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder.
- Instead of sour cream, use an equal amount of Greek yogurt.
- Instead of 1 cup sugar, try ¾ cup plus one tablespoon of honey.
Finally, make sure you stay moving. Focus on little movements throughout the day, like vacuuming or playing catch with your children; staying physically active does not mean you need to run a marathon every day, being conscious of little adjustments can make a big difference. If stress is a part of your holiday season, try going for a short walk. A 30-minute walk will provide a boost of energy and the endorphins released will improve your mood and lower your stress levels.
Whether you want to stay healthy or want to head in a healthier direction during the holidays, small changes may be just what you need, just remember the three m’s, moderation, modification, and movement.
The Rains County Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Office wishes you a happy and healthy holiday season. If you have questions or concerns, please contact me, (903) 473-4580 or email Sarah.Latham@ag.tamu.edu. Follow Rains County AgriLife on Facebook for additional information and upcoming events.
American Heart Association. (2020). Smart Substitutions to Eat Healthy. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/cooking-skills/cooking/smart-substitutions-to-eat-healthy
Statistica. (2019). America’s Top New Year’s Resolutions for 2020. https://www.statista.com/chart/20309/us-new-years-resolutions-2020/