It is holiday season, and with that is the stress of weight gain. It is hard to make better dietary choices when celebrating, but the following seven suggestions will help you pull through the holidays healthier how you went in! These suggestions are based on the seven tenants of clean eating, as translated to modern times by nutrition expert, Diane Welland. Clean eating evolved nearly 50 years ago, but over the years has changed as our culture of eating has changed. Eating clean does not mean giving up foods, just choosing better foods.
Change an unbalanced plate for a little of everything
It’s easy to get carried away with one or two favorites on the table. But move from the “just turkey and stuffing” plate to one that balances all food groups. The more balance on the plate, the more balance in the body. If there isn’t enough room on the plate, then too much of each item is on it. Have a smaller portion of stuffing, white meat turkey or Tofurkey, a tiny portion of mashed potatoes, and more fresh green beans, salad, and even fruit.
Change refined foods for unrefined
Opting for “whole” anything will boost your health. For dinner, switch out a white rice side with brown rice, or better yet make a quinoa side salad. Quinoa is one of the only “complete” foods, and recipes can vary from Mediterranean to sweet. Also consider all that processed sugar in the holiday feast. Replace this with raw honey or maple syrup or even natural apple juice, depending on the recipe. Switch that over-sugared sweet potato casserole out for roasted sweet potatoes with maple syrup and cinnamon.
Change processed foods for whole foods
Processing foods often takes out the nutrient value of the food itself and replaces what is removed with toxic or unnatural chemicals. Move from boxed stuffing and its seasonings, which may include high levels of sodium and preservatives, to making homemade stuffing with day-old whole wheat bread. Many recipes, like this one, will ask for butter and chicken stock in the recipe. Halve the butter and add olive or sunflower oils for healthier options; switch chicken stock for low sodium vegetable stock.
Change high calorie drinks for low calorie quaffs
Drinking thick holiday drinks or coffees or more alcohol than normal is fun, until visiting the scale. Scale back on heavy calorie drinks for lighter options. Switch traditional egg nog for soy nog or better yet, apple cider. Cut back on wine calories by making a wine spritzer. If beer is your choice, opt for a lighter beer. There are many light beer options that won’t kill your buzz for the bad taste. Between each drink, have an entire glass of water.
Change a lazy day for earning that special meal
Don’t make excuses on the holiday- or any day. Boost metabolism by earning the holiday meal you are about to partake in. Start by doing a short walk in the sunshine, if possible. Exposure to the sun regulates the body clock and gets you energized. Fit in a vigorous workout, preferably one with interval training. This needn’t be more than 20-25 minutes, but it will continue to burn calories up to 14 hours after the workout. For the rest of the day, try to stand more than sitting, avoid artificial sweeteners that cause distension, snack on dark chocolate for the metabolism regulator flavonoids, and laugh. Laughing actually burns calories, and makes the day much happier as well. Too stressed to laugh? Do a little yoga session, focusing on breathing and lightening the worries you may have.
Change extra sugar, fat, and salt for unprocessed sugar, healthy fat, and less salt
The mainstay of the American diet tends on the side of sugar hidden in every processed food, high fats like fried foods, and extra salt on everything. This can be changed, and slowly the diet of the American people is trending toward the healthier options. Unprocessed sugar, like raw sugar or honey, in moderation is a better choice, as is healthy fats like avocado, and using herbs to season foods so as to use less salt. Try switching out that traditional green bean casserole that offers nearly 75% of its calories from fat for a newer version. One healthier option is roasting green beans that are lightly coated in olive oil, adding garlic and some chopped onions or slivered almonds. Add just a little salt and pepper on top for some added flavor.
Change one huge meal for six smaller meals all day
Spread that enormous holiday meal out into six meals. While that may not seem possible, consider this- if you were to eat periodically throughout the day, you will feel fuller by the time the big dinner hits. Also, eating throughout the day actually helps jump start the metabolism. Start with a high protein breakfast, like scrambled eggs with zucchini or a bowl of hot sweetened quinoa, and finish it off with a cup or two of green tea. A little later, add some fruit to the day with an apple and a glass of water. Have some broth based soup and a vinaigrette salad with hard boiled eggs or tuna for lunch. Appetizers to try are traditionally full-fat creamy dips that are now made with low-fat Greek yogurt. These are especially good if served with fresh vegetables in a variety of colors. For dinner, keep your plate small so not to overfill. The best dessert choice is a sorbet or fresh fruit, but when choosing the lesser of two evils, avoid pecan pie and go for pumpkin pie, trying to not eat the crust if possible.