Homemade Roasted Thanksgiving Day Turkey with all the Sides/Photo: iStock
Homemade Roasted Thanksgiving Day Turkey with all the Sides/Photo: iStock

With the holidays come tasty holiday foods. From Thanksgiving to New Year’s, you may notice more unhealthy treats around than usual. From sweet treats to family dinners, it can be hard to avoid temptation. But with a little planning, you can stay healthy through the holidays.

Plan Ahead

We often overeat because we don’t think about food ahead of time. If you are invited to a holiday party, don’t arrive hungry. Instead, eat a healthy snack before. This way, you will feel less desire to overeat. When you arrive, check what’s available and then decide what to eat. This way, you can select the foods that best fit into your meal plan.

Cook Healthy

Cooking a holiday dinner? Making a dish? You can create healthy meals for yourself and share them with family and friends. Here are a couple of easy rules for healthier cooking:

Don’t fry — Instead of cooking dishes in hot oil, try baking or roasting. You’ll get lots of flavor while cutting calories and saturated (unhealthy) fat. You can do this in smaller ways as well. 
Are you in charge of the green-bean casserole? Instead of topping with crispy onions, add a healthier crunch with toasted almonds.

Substitute — Maybe you want to cut fat, but your favorite dish calls for eggs, whole milk or sour cream. Try using these substitutes: egg whites, 1 percent milk or Greek yogurt. If you want to reduce salt, try adding herbs and spices instead.

Be fit with fiber – Starchy sides can have a big impact on glucose (sugar) levels. Replace refined starches with high-fiber alternatives. Try whole-wheat flour instead of white flour. Substitute brown rice for white rice. Or try a new recipe that uses quinoa, lentils, black beans and other high-fiber foods.

Trim the fat — Want a slice of holiday turkey? Go for it! There’s nothing wrong with lean protein. Just trim the fat from the meat. Each tablespoon of fat you trim off contains about 100 calories. When making gravy, chill and skim off the excess fat before serving. Dressing a salad? Instead of dressings made with mayonnaise, mix your own with olive oil and vinegar.

Drink Smarter

Many people enjoy a drink during the holidays. Instead of high-calorie eggnog or sugary sodas, try sticking with water, seltzer or unsweetened iced tea. And be careful of alcohol. If you choose to drink, limit yourself: 1 drink for women or 2 for men. Having too much alcohol can be bad for your health.

Listen to Your Body

The holidays are fun, but they can also be stressful. This can cause us to eat faster, or go back for more food. It can also make us ignore our body’s signals to slow down. Take your time with each bite. Chew and savor your food. And listen to your breathing. When you find you’re breathing deeper, that’s a signal that your body has had enough.

Small Treats are OK

Go easy on yourself. It’s OK to treat yourself once in a while. Just try not to make treat foods an everyday choice. Limit sweet treats to special occasions, like holiday parties. Then when you have a cookie or a small piece of pie, you can really enjoy it.

Be the Life of the Party

Instead of focusing on food, socialize more. Stay active with party activities and catch up with friends and family. This is a great chance to support your loved ones. Lead by example and encourage them to have a healthy holiday season, too.

Sources: National Diabetes Education Program and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. All images are used under license for illustrative purposes only. Any individual depicted is a model.

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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