The holidays are rapidly approaching, and with this year looking a little different for most of us, many are striving to make this holiday season as “normal” as possible. With that sense of normalcy, comes many traditional, and very enticing comfort foods that just wouldn’t make the holidays feel complete without them.
But did you know that eating just 200 extra calories a day will cause you to gain two to three pounds over the holiday season? That doesn’t sound like a lot, but a three-pound gain yearly can lead to 30 extra pounds hugging your middle before you know it.
We also understand the holidays are not a time to deprive yourself. Especially after the year we’ve had. Instead, using our tips and recipes below you can make it through the holidays without needing a dieting resolution in the New Year.
Our Top 10 Tips for Avoiding Holiday Overindulgence:
Choose your splurge. When looking over a holiday menu, focus on one or two holiday favorites instead of loading up on things you can have anytime.
Use the 50/50 Rule. Half your plate should be colorful vegetables and fruits.
Visit with people, not food. If you tend to graze, move your socializing away from food areas so you won’t be tempted to mindlessly eat.
Don’t stuff. You know the feeling when you’ve had too much of a good thing. Stop eating before you reach that point. You can always save some for later.
Take a pause. It’s so tempting to go for seconds when everything is delicious. Take a ten-minute pause in between servings to ensure you’re really still hungry.
Don’t skip meals. Sometimes we believe skipping meals allows us to indulge more later. This strategy can backfire because we tend to overeat when we’re ravenous, consuming more than we would have normally. Have a healthy, small meal earlier in the day to curb overeating.
Bring a healthy dish. Contribute your own healthy comfort food so you know you’ll have at least one healthy option. Check out our recipes below for inspiration.
Drink Responsibly. One cup of eggnog can have up to 500 calories. Alcoholic drinks can have 125 to 225 calories on average. If you choose to drink, practice moderation and drink water or another hydrating, calorie-free beverage in between. You’ll cut empty calories and feel refreshed the next day.
Get Physical. When the music comes on, get dancing. Plan a walk or workout before any holiday gathering or organize a post-meal walk for family and friends. It’s a great way to spend time together while allowing your body to work off some of those extra calories.
Leave the guilt at the door. If you do indulge at the holidays, don’t worry too much about it. This is a time to relax and feel good. Just make efforts to get back on track the next day.
Now that you have your holiday party strategies in place, how about trying some of our staff’s favorite healthy recipes for the holiday!
Barcelona Hot Chocolate
While chocolate sounds indulgent, this recipe contains a ton of antioxidants and protein and is a great pick me up! Recipe from Cooking Light – for more great holiday recipe ideas click HERE
- 2/3 c boiling water
- 2 ounces dark or bittersweet chocolate finely chopped
- 1 1/3 cups low fat milk
- 1 c brewed espresso or coffee
- ¼ c unsweetened cocoa powder
- ¼ c brown sugar
- 2 inch piece orange rind
- ¼ c whipped topping
Combine 2/3 cup boiling water and chopped chocolate in a medium saucepan, stirring until chocolate melts. Add milk and next 4 ingredients (through rind); cook over medium-low heat, stirring with a whisk. Heat 5 minutes or until tiny bubbles form around edge of pan, stirring frequently (do not boil). Discard rind. Pour 1 cup mixture into each of 4 mugs. Spoon 1 tablespoon whipped topping over each serving. Dust with cocoa powder, if desired.
Blackened Shrimp with Avocado Ranch Dip
Shrimp are a great low -calorie high protein choice, and the creamy avocado is a great source of Omega fats, making this recipe a winner for a healthy holiday treat. Recipe from Flavor the Moments. For more paleo or gluten free appetizer ideas visit the site HERE.
For the avocado ranch:
- 1 small avocado
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 cup low fat buttermilk
- 2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
- salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the blackened seasoning:
- 3 tablespoons smoked paprika
- 3 teaspoons onion powder
- 3 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or up to 1 teaspoon to make it really spicy!)
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
For the shrimp:
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 lbs. shrimp, thawed according to package instructions
- 2-3 tablespoons blackened seasoning plus another pinch kosher salt*
- Juice from half a lime, plus lime wedges for serving
- Prepare the avocado ranch dip: Place the avocado, lime juice, onion powder, garlic powder, buttermilk, parsley, chives and dill in the bowl of a food processor. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste, and process until smooth. Adjust the seasoning as necessary and set aside.
- Prepare the blackened seasoning: Place all ingredients in a small bowl and stir to combine.
- Prepare the shrimp: Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the thawed shrimp followed by 2-3 tablespoons of the blackened seasoning and a generous pinch of salt. Stir until the shrimp are well coated with the seasoning and saute for 5 minutes or until cooked through.
- Place the shrimp on a serving platter with the avocado ranch dip and squeeze fresh lime juice over the shrimp. Serve immediately with fresh lime wedges and enjoy!
Balsamic-Roasted Green Beans with Parmesan
Balsamic vinegar and parmesan make a healthy side dish without all the creamy calorie laden ingredients our favorite green bean casserole might have. You’ll get a sweet, caramelized flavor without all the added calories and carbs. Plus it’s super simple to prepare!
For more healthy holiday side recipes from Eating Well click HERE.
- 1 ¼ pounds trimmed fresh green beans (about 8 cups)
- 2 medium shallots, sliced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 ounce Parmesan cheese, finely grated (about 1/4 cup)
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.
- Combine green beans, shallots, oil, salt and pepper on the prepared pan; toss to coat well. Roast until tender, 15 to 18 minutes. Drizzle evenly with vinegar; sprinkle with Parmesan.
Who can resist pecan pie? This version is bite sized so you can indulge without going overboard. Plus it subs fiber rich oats for a portion of the flour and healthy maple syrup for the traditional corn syrup, which makes this treat a winner. For more healthy holiday dessert ideas check out the Clean Eating Couple website HERE.
- 1 ½ cups old-fashioned rolled oats
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup packed light brown sugar, divided
- 1 teaspoon salt, divided
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 2 large eggs
- ¼ cup pure maple syrup
- 1 cup pecan halves, toasted and finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat 24 mini-muffin cups with cooking spray.
- Combine oats, flour, 1/4 cup brown sugar, and 1/2 tsp. salt in a food processor. Process until the oats are finely ground. Scatter butter pieces on top and process just until a dough comes together.
- Divide the dough among the prepared mini-muffin cups, using about 1 1/2 Tbsp. dough for each. Press the dough into the bottom and up the sides of each cup.
- Bake the crusts until the edges are set and light golden, about 15 minutes. Use the back of a spoon to press the crusts back down and up the sides (they will have puffed slightly during baking).
- Whisk eggs, maple syrup, pecans, vanilla, and the remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar and 1/2 tsp. salt in a medium bowl. Divide the filling among the crusts, using about 1/2 Tbsp. filling for each.
- Bake the mini pies until the filling is set, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Use an offset spatula to release the edges and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- The holidays don’t have to weigh us down. Adopting our healthy strategies and recipe ideas above is sure to create a happy and healthy holiday for you and your family. And, if you feel you need a little extra willpower, check out our Weight Wellness bundle. This bundle contains holiday strategy audio sessions that will help you master your holidays with ease. Click
- for more information.