How to Make Your Healthy Holiday PlanHow to Make Your Healthy Holiday Plan

Source: MyFoodDiary.com

How to Make Your Healthy Holiday Plan

The holiday season is around the corner and while you may not be ready to start celebrating, now is the time to plan how upcoming celebrations will fit into your healthy lifestyle. This time of year is notorious for commitments that interfere with exercise and for overeating unhealthy foods. By making a plan to overcome these obstacles, you will stay on track to meet your health and fitness goals.

Make a list of your favorite seasonal foods.

There are special holiday foods that you can’t get any other time of year. Depriving yourself will only make you feel miserable and increase the chances that you will give up and overindulge. Instead, decide how you will incorporate these foods into a healthy eating plan. Make a list of your must-have foods and estimate when these foods will be available -- pecan pie at Thanksgiving, Grandma’s cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning? When you plan for special treats, you can alter your food intake around this time so that you don’t go overboard on unhealthy fat, sugar, or calories.

Set exercise goals.

Think about what the holiday season really looks like for you. You might be someone with few commitments, who only needs to alter your exercise routine for light travel right around the holidays. Or you might be a person with a packed schedule from Halloween to New Years. Plan your exercise accordingly and set goals for what you’d like to accomplish over the next two to three months. Make these goals achievable. It’s okay to drop your workouts to three 30-minute sessions for a few weeks. Maybe home videos are a better option than a trip to the gym. Set an exercise goal for each week and incorporate healthy, non-food rewards for when you achieve each.

Draft a schedule of your regular commitments.

Most people attend the same parties year after year and travel to the same family reunion. Get these commitments on your calendar and include other tasks like gift shopping and baking. Next, add your exercise sessions to the calendar. Add some longer workouts in the weeks before you know things will get busy. Follow that up with a list of options for how you will stick to healthy eating throughout the coming weeks.

Prepare make-ahead meals.

Often the problem with the holiday season isn’t that you indulge in high-calorie foods a day or two. It’s when this pattern lasts for several weeks that the pounds pile on. Save your splurges for special occasions and prepare healthy meals to have available when you are too busy to cook. Most foods will stay fresh up to two months in the freezer. Bean soups and stews, vegetable lasagna, vegetarian burgers, cooked poultry, and sauteed greens all freeze well and can be thawed for an easy, healthy meal when your schedule gets out of control.

Decide what you will skip.

It might be passing on the cookie tray in favor of a slice of pie, taking a break from an evening exercise class to squeeze in an early morning session, or eliminating a task that causes you stress every year. In order to enjoy a healthy holiday, you have to make trade-offs. Not having every dessert available will save you hundreds of calories. You may miss your regular workout group, but successfully completing your workout is better than skipping it at the last minute due to a schedule change. Some old traditions need to be let go to make room for new, healthier ones. Spend some time thinking about what you will cut out of your holiday season to make it healthier and happier.

Put the plan into action.

A healthy plan will do you no good if you fail to put it into action. Start now by making every meal a healthy one and sticking to your regular workouts. When the parties and commitments begin, you will have several weeks of healthy habits established going in. Use your calendar, set reminders on your smartphone, and ask friends and family for support. All of these steps will make a healthy holiday a natural part of your lifestyle.

Cranberry Salsa RecipeCranberry Salsa

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Cranberry Salsa Recipe

Fresh cranberries are rich in plant nutrients that act as antioxidants to protect against inflammation and disease. This fruit can be used in more than high-sugar cranberry sauce. The tartness of fresh cranberries is reduced by mixing them with other flavorful ingredients such as those used in this salsa. They provide a seasonal twist to a favorite dip and condiment.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 serving
Amount Per Serving
16
Calories
% Daily Value*
0%
Total Fat 0g
0%Saturated Fat 0g
Trans Fat 0g
0%
Cholesterol 0mg
4%
Sodium 95mg
1%
Total Carbohydrate 4g
3%
Dietary Fiber 0.9g
Sugars 2.1g
Protein 0.2g
Vitamin C 10%Vitamin A 1%
Iron 1%Calcium 0%
*
The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

Yield: About 6 servings

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • ½ cup chopped red onion
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tbsp fresh orange juice
  • 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • ¼ tsp salt

Directions

  1. Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse in 10 second intervals until the cranberries are finely chopped and all ingredients are combined.
  2. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Ways to Sneak in ExerciseWays to Sneak in Exercise

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Ways to Sneak in Exercise

While it’s okay to reduce your exercise time during the busy holiday season, completely cutting out your workouts is a big mistake. Not only will you lose the fitness gains you've worked so hard for, exercise helps reduce holiday-related tension and stress.

Add 20 minutes to your day

An effective circuit or high intensity interval workout takes 20 minutes or less. Waking up a few minutes early or delegating some things on your to-do list can open up a window of time that allows you to sneak in a workout.

Never pass up an opportunity to move

Now is the time to recommit to those little things that add activity to your day. Always take the stairs, walk to deliver messages, complete errands on foot, and work in a set of squats while dinner is in the oven. These simple activities may not seem like much, but the short bursts of movement help refresh your energy levels and boost calories burned.

Create outdoor holiday traditions

While extreme weather can hinder outdoor activities, brisk temperatures, even a little snow, shouldn't prevent you from getting outside. Sign up as a family to walk or jog a local Turkey Trot, a Jingle Bell Walk, or a New Years Eve 5K. Toss the football outside after dinner, have a snowman building competition, or bundle up and go for a walk to view holiday decorations. Planning these activities allows you to get in a workout without taking time away from friends and family.

Trade mindless activities

Even on the busiest days, it’s easy to lose minutes to mindless activities like surfing the Internet, updating your social media status, or watching television. While mental breaks are necessary, these minutes can add up and take away from time you could spend exercising. A quick circuit of lunges, push-ups, and crunches will be better for your physical health than 10 unproductive minutes spent on the computer or watching television.

3 Ways to Lighten Up Holiday Meals3 Ways to Lighten Up Holiday Meals

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Lighten Up Holiday Meals

The holidays are meant to be celebrated with delicious foods, but too much celebrating can deter you from your fitness goals. Make the season more nutritious with a few simple steps that will lighten up holiday meals.

Go Heavy on the Herbs and Spices

It’s easy to turn to butter, cream, and salt to flavor food. While these ingredients in moderation can fit into a healthy diet, you can save yourself hundreds of calories by turning to herbs and spices for flavor. Fresh thyme, rosemary and a little garlic mixed into mashed potatoes can help you reduce the salt and butter while still keeping it delicious. For sweeter dishes, like sweet potatoes or cranberry sauce, add cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, and allspice. The more flavorful the dish, the less sugar or butter you will need to add to make it satisfying.

Keep Things Simple

The more options that are available, the more foods you are going to want to try, whether you are truly hungry or not. Pick a few favorites and keep it simple. Despite the fact that these foods may be higher in calories, you can still follow a healthy eating plan when it comes to nutrients and food groups. Make sure you have protein, complex carbohydrates, healthy fat and plenty of vegetables. Serve appropriate portion sizes to limit calories. Also cut fat and calories by keeping preparations simple. Roasted root vegetables and dark leafy greens are the perfect side dishes for a holiday meal. Balance healthy, simple recipes with the heavier holiday favorites.

Make Easy Swaps

There are simple swaps you can make that will save calories, sodium, and saturated fat. If you snack on nuts with pre-dinner cocktails, add in some unsalted, raw varieties. For recipes that call for butter when sautéing, try substituting half or all of it with olive oil. Add pureed fruits like banana, applesauce, or fresh pineapple to naturally sweeten recipes like sweet potato casserole, cranberry sauce, or baked goods like muffins. Use whole grain bread in stuffing and choose whole grain rolls. When making cream sauces, try substituting some of the cream with unsalted chicken or vegetable stock. They will thicken in a similar way and once it's mixed into casseroles, it’s difficult to tell the difference.

Slow Cooker Vegetable Stew RecipeSlow Cooker Vegetable Stew

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Slow Cooker Vegetable Stew Recipe

Healthy eating is easy when you use a slow cooker. This vegetarian stew is loaded with nutrient-rich vegetables and flavored with mild curry powder. Light, but filling, it can be eaten alone, or you can serve it over brown rice or quinoa.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 serving
Amount Per Serving
201
Calories
% Daily Value*
2%
Total Fat 1.6g
1%Saturated Fat 0.2g
Trans Fat 0g
0%
Cholesterol 0mg
10%
Sodium 232mg
13%
Total Carbohydrate 39.8g
26%
Dietary Fiber 7.4g
Sugars 7.9g
Protein 8.4g
Vitamin C 82%Vitamin A 80%
Iron 21%Calcium 13%
*
The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

Yield: 6 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 4 hours

Ingredients

  • 2 large potatoes, chopped (about 3 cups)
  • 3 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 2 (14.5 oz.) cans no salt added diced tomatoes
  • ½ cup unsalted vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp fine ground sea salt
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 (15 oz.) can low sodium garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Directions

  1. Place the potatoes, broccoli, carrots and onion in the bowl of a 5 to 6 quart slow cooker. Add 1 can of the diced tomatoes with the juices.
  2. Transfer the other can of diced tomatoes to a small food processor and puree on high for 15 to 20 seconds until a sauce has formed. Pour the tomato sauce over the vegetables. Add the stock.
  3. Sprinkle in the curry powder, cumin, salt and pepper. Stir to mix all ingredients. Cover and cook on high for 3 hours and 45 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.
  4. Stir in the garbanzo beans and let cook for 15 more minutes to warm them. Serve sprinkled with fresh cilantro.
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