With the holidays coming, it's easy to fall into the high-calorie and carbohydrate-filled trap of holiday eating. Thankfully, agencies such as the American Diabetes Association, whose mission is to "prevent and cure diabetes and improve the lives of people affected by diabetes", provide healthy living recommendations for the holidays.
To lighten up your holiday menu and cooking, refer to the guidelines below.
General Healthy Holiday Tips
1. Stick to your fitness routine as much as possible. Set aside time to do some kind of activity most days. If you can't get to the gym:
- Go for a walk with a family member or friend after dinner.
- Take the kids out to play in the snow, go sledding, or try another winter activity together.
- Remember, heavy cleaning before guests arrive can also be a way to fit more activity into your day.
- Split up your activity into bouts of no less than 10 minutes. You could go for three, 10-minute walks throughout the day and that still counts!
2. Bring something to the holiday party that's on the healthier side. When you aren't celebrating, make sure you have healthy foods around to make meals at home.
3. When filling your plate at holiday parties, use the diabetes plate as your guide.
4. Eat mindfully. When you eat slowly and savor your holiday favorites, you'll enjoy meal time even more than usual!
5. To work in a serving of your favorite holiday dessert, try to cut back on the carbohydrate that you have at your meal.
6. If you over-indulge, don't get down on yourself. Decide what you'll do better next time and move on. Start fresh the next day with healthy eating and exercising. You could even add some extra exercise to your routine to burn off some of the calories from the day before.
Doing Your Own Holiday Cooking
Here are some simple recipe substitutions that could make a big difference. Try some of them out on the crowd this year.
- Does your family love creamy dips for an appetizer? For cold dips that use mayonnaise, try replacing the mayo with a mix of light mayonnaise and plain nonfat Greek yogurt. For dips that call for cream cheese, use a mix of lower fat cream cheese and fat-free cream cheese.
- Making a cheesy casserole? Try cutting the cheese or butter in your recipe by 25%-50%. You can also try lower fat or reduced-calorie versions of many common casserole ingredients like sour cream, cream cheese, and condensed soup.
- Stuffing is a staple for many Thanksgiving feasts. How about adding some extra sautéed vegetables to your stuffing like carrots, onions, mushrooms, and celery?
- For poultry like chicken or turkey, simply remove the skin before eating to reduce the saturated fat and calories.
- When picking out dinner rolls, opt for whole grain rolls. It's okay to offer butter to spread on the dinner rolls, but put out some trans-free margarine if you can as well.
- When you are making a fruit pie, sweet potato casserole, or apple crisp, try adding less sugar than you usually do. These dishes will still be perfectly sweet and flavorful because of the natural sugars in the produce.