We are entering that time of year where schedules are overflowing with holiday activity. Rather than getting stressed over the blur of events from October through December, I hum Van McCoy’s 1975 hit “The Hustle” knowing I have my holiday groove on by maintaining the following healthy holiday habits:
- Plan weekly menus with daily meals. Menu planning is a lifesaver during stressful and hectic times. Whether you are planning meals for yourself or for a family, having a menu plan in place ensures you are eating well. If you have never practiced menu planning, now is a good time to start. Here is a good fats grocery list to kick off the holiday season.
- Prepare for snacks. Shopping and the holidays go hand in hand. Keeping convenient, healthy snacks with you at all times ensures you don’t become ravenously hungry and make poor choices. Nuts, like almonds, pistachios and walnuts, are an easy and filling choice when you keep your portion to a small handful. Packed with good fats, these nuts will help keep you full longer and may have additional benefits such as improving your cholesterol and reducing your risk of type 2 diabetes.
- Make smart swaps. Replace “bad” fats in your holiday cooking with good fats such as canola oil or olive oil. Canola oil, high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, works well in many baked goods like this Spiced Cranberry Zucchini Bread.
- Have a party strategy. Heading out to a holiday cocktail party? Having a small meal or healthy snack beforehand is a good way to prevent you from overdoing it at the buffet table, or follow these strategies at the party. Also, avoid standing at the buffet table and grazing. Rather, prepare a small plate and sit down to enjoy your food.
- Veg out! As in load up on the vegetables and try something new. If you are heading to a potluck, bring a tasty vegetable dish like my Roasted Dill Carrots made with olive oil. Often holiday meals are laden with meats, breads and starches, but the non-starchy vegetables get overlooked. Think about color such as vibrant greens or oranges which can really help dress up a table.
- Plan exercise. It is important to continue to make time for daily physical activity. Find fun ways to be active with others such as the many organized walks and runs this time of year. Catch up with a friend over a walk instead of coffee. Think about your daily routine and how you can squeeze in more activity such as parking further away in a parking lot, taking the stairs and pacing around your home or office while talking on the phone.
- Be mindful. Do you really need to attend every party? Maybe this holiday season cutting back on some of the social activities will allow you to put greater focus on your family and what the holidays mean to you. The same applies when it comes to eating. Take time to enjoy your food and pay attention to your body’s natural signals of hunger and fullness.