Eat and Be Merry

Welcome to my very first “Fast and Fueled” article for Whatismyhealth!

Typically, I would prefer to do an article that sets the stage for future articles and allows the audience to know what to expect. However, it’s the holiday season, so let’s dive right into the hustle and bustle and we can play catch up later.

As we all know, when we think of this time of year, we think of tempting, rich foods that tend to interrupt some of our healthy eating habits. It seems like every holiday function is another chance to indulge in seasonal sweets, beverages, and casseroles. As someone that stands for healthy eating, yet cannot imagine the holidays without these delicious components, I believe in finding balance during this time of year.

For many, trying to avoid every temptation leaves them unsatisfied, which can cause a nutritional breakdown in the future. At the same time, a month filled with “overdoing it” could be a threat to our health and leave us feeling like we have some extra jingle bells weighing us down as we enter the New Year. With that being said, here are some healthful tips that may help you navigate your holiday season! 

Healthy Meals At Home

By sticking to a healthy schedule, we can make other special occasions less detrimental.

  • Include balanced meals that are rich in fruits and vegetables
  • Choose whole grains instead of refined grains
  • Stick to lean protein options such as skinless poultry, fish, or plant-based alternatives 
  • Savor the flavor with seasonal herbs and spices such as rosemary and cloves while cutting back on sugar and butter
  • Substitute healthy ingredients in casseroles to reduce sugar and fat intake. If unsure of what ingredients are in a casserole, stick to spoonful servings.

Having a Plan at Holiday Functions 

  • Avoid arriving at parties hungry. We are more likely to overindulge when we don’t feel satiated
  • Eat lighter meals that consist of fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and healthy carbohydrates throughout the day. This will leave a little room for foods we do not typically indulge in, yet keep your metabolism moving!
  • Map out the food options before making your plate. Knowing what is available will give you more insight of how to make an enjoyable, yet balanced plate. With richer options you cannot live without, stick to smaller portions
  • Go the extra mile. Maybe extend your workout time a little longer to allow room for more fun!
  • Offer to bring a healthy, seasonal dish. It is likely you will not be the only guest that will be grateful for this option
  • Remember, it is just food and one day of imperfect eating will not ruin you


If you are like me, you wait all year for this. Sweets are available every time we turn around and hard to avoid. However, you can still indulge without wrecking Santa’s sleigh. 

  • In parties that offer a buffet line of sweets, take small portions of pies,  halves of cookies, or small squares of fudge to get a small taste of your favorite desserts
  • Use the buddy system and split desserts
  • Make a realistic dessert budget before arriving at parties: “I will have no more than two Christmas cookies”
  • With your own baking, practice recipe modifications. For example, use unsweetened applesauce in place of butter, substitute skim or almond milk for whole milk and heavy cream, and leverage extracts (vanilla, almond, peppermint) in place of sugar and butter

Holiday Beverages  

With beverages, we tend to disregard the additional sugar and calories we are getting. Here are some easy ways to lighten it up! 

  • Use club soda as mixers to spare additional calories 
  • Egg nog: Use 1/2-2/3 parts low-calorie milk such as skim or almond, and one part egg nog. You will get the flavor without all the calories
  • Hot Chocolate: Again, ask for a lighter milk or water and go easy on whipped cream/ chocolate toppings!
  • Apple Cider: Store bought options tend to have a lot of excess sugar. Try making your own version with unsweetened apple juice and a variety of spices such as cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon sticks to keep it flavorful, yet light

Ultimately, the holidays are a time that should be enjoyed with the people we love the most. With a little bit of planning, preparation, and discipline, there is the potential to keep our health at the forefront without being deprived of holiday cheer.

© Copyright Whatismyhealth, December 18, 2016