The holidays are always a great time together with family, friends, and loved ones – not to mention incredible food!
At the same time, though, most of the time our favorite holiday dishes are as far apart from healthy party food options as can be. It isn’t a coincidence that the average person puts on between 4 and 8 pounds between Thanksgiving and the New Year, with plenty of opportunities to dive into holiday food that isn’t ideal for our waistline (or our short and long-term health).
But it doesn’t have to be like that!
In fact, there are plenty of top-tier healthy party snacks and dishes that you can enjoy throughout the holiday season, the kinds of healthy snacks and dishes that may not necessarily replace all of your old holiday favorites but certainly won’t get you laughed away from the family dinner table when you all get together, either.
Below we highlight a couple of tips and tricks to help you handle the holidays when it comes to your health and wellness, highlighting some tactics and strategies that will let you indulge in all kinds of holiday food while eating a lot healthier, too!
Let’s dig right in.
How To Enjoy Christmas Without The Calories
One of the easiest ways to enjoy the holidays without packing on the calories (or the pounds that come later) is to simply drink a lot more water while you are partying with your friends and family than you might have otherwise – especially if you start to hydrate an hour or two before the festivities kickoff.
By drinking a lot more water you are going to satiate your hunger quite a bit more than you would have if you went in “dry”, but you’re also going to fill up your stomach and cut down on your cravings at the same time.
You’ll find yourself getting full a lot faster which may not do all that much to help you figure out how to reduce sugar cravings entirely but it will certainly help you to stop eating a lot more of those sugary treats than you might have otherwise.
Obviously, this isn’t the only way that you can cut down on the calories that you are consuming when you eat traditional holiday dishes and sweets, particularly around Christmas time. But it is something that everyone can do without any headache or hassle that will make a big and measurable difference right away.
If you really want to take things to the next level you might want to look up healthier alternatives to your favorite holiday treats and snacks. The internet is going to be your best friend when you go to look up healthy recipes that can work with the components of a healthy diet (less sugar, less salt, less fat, etc.), recipes that taste a lot like the “real thing” while cutting down on calories significantly.
Swapping Sugar For Fresh Fruit
Another great approach you’ll want to consider is swapping out a lot of the sugary treats that are so common around the holidays and instead of enjoying more fresh fruit. You’ll get the same sweet, sour, delicious flavors that you love so much about some of the favorite holiday desserts that use a lot of sugar without adding any of that extra sugar to your daily dietary intake along the way.
Believe it or not, there are a lot of recipes out there that replace traditional sugar with fresh fruit to add that extra bit of sugary sweetness to different holiday treats. Opting instead for this homemade approach to creating your favorite desserts with fruit can be a great alternative to processed or store-bought options that are inevitably going to be packed to the gills with just as much sugar as humanly possible.
Add More Vegetables
One of the best ways to enjoy healthy party food is definitely to eat options that have tweaked recipes with healthier ingredients throughout, but sometimes you just aren’t going to be able to find healthier recipe alternatives for your favorite dishes and your favorite snacks.
It’s hard to imagine anyone coming up with a healthy alternative to a Jell-O pretzel salad, for example. There just aren’t a lot of ingredients you can swap out that will get you the same results. The same is true for things like fruitcake, candy canes, and double chocolate brownies.
At the same time, if you’re serious about eating healthier during the holidays you’ll want to consider increasing the number of vegetable dishes you consume before you dive into your favorite not so healthy treats.
Just like drinking extra water to fill up with “empty calories”, this approach is going to guarantee that you start to get pretty full-on vegetables that are always going to be good for your health and your wellness – with vegetables that are usually quite low in calories for the volume they are going to take up in your stomach.
Have a couple of extra servings of vegetables, wait 15 or 20 minutes before you dig into desserts, and you’ll find that you have significantly reduced your cravings for those sugary treats but have also made it next to impossible to pig out on pies, cakes, and candies the way you might have if your stomach wasn’t full-on vegetables.
Swap Crisps For Unsalted Nuts
Crisps and other treats around the holiday season are going to be almost impossible to ignore, as everyone loves to put out big bags or big bowls of these easy to snack on delights – particularly when they are entertaining a lot of people that want to have something to nibble on while they are visiting with their friends and family.
A great way to eat healthier when you are entertaining for the holidays (or are visiting someone for the holidays) is to swap out things like crisps for unsalted nuts. Some of the best nuts for healthy snacking include cashews, peanuts, pistachios, and the like – though you’ll want to try to find nuts that have as little salt on them as possible.
You might not always be able to find party nuts that have no salt whatsoever (especially if you aren’t the one bringing the nut snacks to the party) but we can tell you with complete certainty that even the salty asked of nuts snacks are going to be a whole lot better for your health and wellness than the “healthiest” of crisps.
Other things you want to consider to help you get through the holidays without packing on pound after pound of excess body fat are to continue exercising the same way that you have been all year (or even ramp things up a little bit more to counteract your holiday binging) and to focus on portion control.
Yes, you’re going to need a little bit more dedication to get through the holiday season (especially since there are so many wonderful meals and dishes ahead that are going to be tough to ignore completely) but as long as you commit to burning off the excess with intense exercise and limit your indulging as much as possible you shouldn’t feel bad about sneaking a couple of your favorite, once a year treats.
If you’re really feeling guilty about going “all in” on these kinds of unhealthy meals – even after using the tips and tricks above to help you avoid those issues – consider taking a quick walk after dinner to jumpstart your fat-melting furnace internally.
Get plenty of sleep, get plenty of water, and commit to doing a little bit better the next time you are going to be getting together for the holidays and you’ll have nothing to worry about!