Get Smart on Sweets, and Savor Your Holiday Health
President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition
Here come the holidays—the most sweet-swamped, calorie-dense, healthy-habit-halting time of year! It’s a time when temptation lurks on every plate. The shorter days and longer “to do” lists can edge out physical activity, and your hard-won health gains threaten to melt away like meringue.
It doesn't have to be that way! You can enjoy the palate-pleasing perks of the season, and still maintain your health and fitness goals. First, face the holidays with “three R’s” that can help:
- REFLECT on your specific eating patterns, good and bad. Ask yourself what triggers your unhealthy eating.
- REPLACE your unhealthy eating patterns with healthier ones.
- REINFORCE your healthier eating patterns daily.
Next, avoid these portion size pitfalls, which can slow down your healthy living journey:
- Eating while standing up, which can lead to eating mindlessly or too quickly
- Eating when you’re not hungry
- Skipping breakfast
- Always eating dessert
- Always cleaning your plate
Here are some healthy eating tips that can help you stay on track:
- Eating more slowly (it takes your brain at least 20 minutes to realize you’re full)
- Eating only when you’re hungry and free of anxiety, boredom, and exhaustion
- Being mindful of portion sizes, whether eating out or at home
- Replacing a candy dish with a fruit bowl
- Storing tempting foods out of immediate eyesight
- Planning meals ahead of time to ensure you eat well
But even armed with these strategies, the sheer abundance of holiday sweet treats challenges all of us—especially at holiday parties! Strategies for navigating these food-filled occasions include:
- Eating close to your normal mealtimes to keep blood sugar steady
- Not skipping meals to “save up” for a feast (the blood sugar drop makes you more likely to overeat)
- Bringing a healthy dish to the party (find recipes for great options below)
- Beating the buffet by having a small plate of the foods you like best and then moving away from the table
- Starting with vegetables to take the edge off your appetite
- Cutting back on other carbs to “make room” for a sensible serving of a sweet treat
- Avoiding or limiting alcohol intake
Finally, this sugar season, consider a dessert makeover:
- Make it a mini— trim portion size, and enjoy traditional holiday favorites in moderation, guilt free
- Update those favorites with healthier ingredients—use whole grain flour, lower fat dairy products, fruit and nuts—and less sugar
- Remember that sweets can be tweaked to be better for you. Some healthier dessert ideas include frozen yogurt, fruit, and whole-grain baked goods
To help you fight temptation, here are three of our favorite holiday healthy recipes to make your makeover delicious!
Never fear, healthy holiday eating is here! Remember, there’s nothing sweeter than the gift of good health. So stay focused. Stay active during the day. At night, aim for seven to eight hours of sleep to guard against mindless eating. You can stay on track to your healthiest New Year yet! Visit us at www.0to60fitness.org to continue your journey to get fit, eat better, and live your best life. Also, be sure to share the stories of your healthy holiday eating strategies, and photos of your delectable dessert makeovers @FitnessGov using #0to60.
How sweet it is!