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Extension > Live Healthy, Live Well > Nine Tips for a Healthier Holiday

Monday, December 1, 2014

Nine Tips for a Healthier Holiday

By Sara Torrence, dietetic intern — University of Minnesota – The Emily Program

The holidays are often filled with time-honored traditions that include some of our favorite foods and desserts. Unfortunately, these traditions can challenge your commitment to healthful eating. By choosing and preparing healthier meals and staying active, you can prevent overeating and weight gain. Take a few simple steps to prevent unnecessary weight gain throughout the holiday season.

9 tips for a healthier holiday
  1. Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
  2. Move your socializing away from the appetizers and snacks. This will cut down on mindless overeating.
  3. Share healthier options during your holiday meals. Prepare whole-grain crackers with hummus as an appetizer or use low-fat milk instead of heavy whipping cream in your dishes.
  4. Choose proteins that are lean. When serving meats, trim away any fat before cooking.
  5. Offer to make a dessert with less fat and total calories. Here are three options: make a No Crust Pumpkin Pie, top a cake with fruit instead of frosting, or make Microwaved Baked Apples.
  6. Drink low-calorie beverages, like water with lemon slices.
  7. When baking, replace some of the butter or oil with unsweetened applesauce or bananas. Try cutting the sugar listed in recipes in half.
  8. Make being active part of your holiday tradition. Plan non-food gatherings like ice skating or building a snowman.
  9. Give gifts that promote an active lifestyle. Here are three ideas: workout DVDs, yoga mats, or reusable water bottles.
Bundle up and get moving!

Stay active during the holiday season
Plan non-food gatherings to enjoy the outdoors during the winter months:
  • Walking to see holiday parades or festive lights
  • Sledding / tubing
  • Ice skating
  • Snowshoeing or cross country skiing
  • Building a snowman or snow angel
  • Downhill skiing or snowboarding
  • Snowball fights
  • Ice fishing
Goals for this month
Pick one to work on and tell us in the comments when you've reached it:
  • When baking, try substituting the butter or oil with applesauce, a banana, or yogurt.
  • Color half your plate with fruits & vegetables.
  • Plan a non-food gathering with friends or family.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture. (2013). Make Healthier Holiday Choices: 10 Tips for a Healthier Holiday. ChooseMyPlate.gov

Reviewed by Hannah Jastram, registered dietitian — Center for Family Development

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