Healthy Holiday Swaps

Holly can’t wait - her countdown has started and there are only 25 days until Christmas! She’s already embarrassing her children by blasting holiday tunes in the car and decorating the house top to bottom in green and red tinsel. What she’s not excited for, however, is the inevitable six pounds she gains at Christmas every year. This is the one yearly holiday that seems to really kick her in the butt, she’s officially dedicated a pair of jeans one size bigger as her “Christmas jeans.” She doesn’t want to be a downer by not attending her holiday function invites, but she feels that this minor weight gain over the years is really starting to add up. Holly visits her local Fernie dietitian to get some advice on how to survive this holiday season in a healthy, sustainable manner.

Top five tips for a healthier holiday season:

1. Make modifications
Holiday dishes are often laden with extra calories that don’t add a lot of flavour. Try these swaps to lighten up your favourites: roast potatoes in olive oil and use low fat milk instead of mashing potatoes with cream and butter; choose white turkey breast and skip the skin instead of dark meat; make homemade cranberry sauce to cut out added sugar and make sure to have lots of vegetable dishes available to choose from; And remember, just because it’s “holiday food,” you don’t have to eat it. Unless you truly get satisfaction from a dish or treat, don’t eat it – I’m looking at you Aunt Edna’s fruit cake!

2. Balance out your plate
On Christmas, studies have shown we may eat up to 6000 calories… in one day! This is more than three times what most of us usually eat in a day. This point goes to prove that how much, is just as important as what you put on your plate. Start by loading half your plate with colourful vegetables, skip the cream sauce on these and opt for seasoning with fresh herbs and spices. The rest of your plate should be broken into one quarter grains and starches; this could look like half a cup of mashed potatoes, and half a cup of stuffing. The final quarter of your plate should have your lean protein, such as a deck of cards sized slice of turkey breast.

3. Plan your home for success
The countless holiday events, family dinners and work parties seem to create a holiday that is a month long, rather than the one day like Thanksgiving. Although the myriad of social events may be inevitable (and fun!) planning to keep a “healthy holiday household” will allow you to make smart choices the rest of the week. Stock your fridge with loads of fresh veggies, whole grains like quinoa and lentils. and lean proteins like tuna and tofu. Pack your breakfast, lunches and healthy snacks to avoid grabbing too many holiday cookies from the staff room.

4. Play in the snow
We’re so fortunate to live in a beautiful ski town, which provides endless hours of outdoor activities. Although we can’t “outrun the fork,” spending an extra 60 minutes a day outside could burn up to 600 calories and give you a big hit of feel good endorphins. Try spending your weekends out on the slopes, walking through town or making snowmen with your kids in the backyard. It doesn’t matter what the activity is, just ensure you’re getting your heart rate up for at least 30 minutes every day! Bonus, this also limits the time you’re inside mindlessly snacking on holiday leftovers.

5. Create a plan
While all these ideas are great, they’re not going to be much help if we don’t implement them. Research has shown that setting goals each week will increase our chances of actually following through with them. Some great examples could be to walk for 30 minutes, five days a week or to have a balanced breakfast every day. Write down each goal, and post it at eye level in your house so you’re sure to follow through!

Keep these five healthy holiday tips in mind to have a joyous and happy season while feeling strong come the New Year!