It's not easy to eat healthy during the holidays. But with a little planning and forethought, the traditionally fattening foods and eating-centered celebrations of the holiday season won't wreck your diet. Consider these six ways to eat healthy during the holidays.
Ditch Full-Fat DairyConsuming a lot of regular dairy products ups your fat- and calorie-intake exponentially. Consider healthier substitutions in recipes whenever possible, such as replacing sour cream with plain yogurt (which can save over 150 calories per half-cup). Serving a glass of fat-free milk with Santa's cookies instead of whole milk will save the big guy about 70 calories.
More: Holiday Baking Substitutions
Turkey is TopsThe good news about healthy eating during the holidays? Turkey is one of the leanest types of meat. Stick to broiling, stewing, or baking as preparation methods; cook using a rack so the fat will drip away from the meat. (Frying turkeys may be popular these days, but doing so turns that healthy turkey into a dieting don't.) As a rule of thumb, try to always eat white meat poultry, which is leaner than dark meat (so, choose chicken breast slices over a drumstick). When selecting other types of meats, buy leaner cuts whenever possible.
More: Make Healthy Beef Choices
Have a Game PlanAvoid the high-calorie items typically offered at holiday get-togethers, such as high-fat appetizers, processed meats (like cocktail sausages), fried foods, cream-based soups, heavy casseroles, and desserts. Plan to fill up on lighter fare, such as lean meat, grains, fruit, and veggies. Prepare and bring a healthy dish so you, and other weight-conscious guests, will have an alternative if the host's offerings aren't so diet-friendly.
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Don't Go HungryArriving at a party with a growling tummy is a surefire way to make the wrong choices and overeat without even realizing it. Never "save up" your calories during the day by not eating; it will only backfire and cause you to eat more in the end. Have a smart snack, such as a small apple with a teaspoon of peanut butter, before you leave the house. You'll still be hungry enough to enjoy the holiday foods, but not so hungry that you overdo it.
More: Prevent Overeating at Holiday Parties
Fill Up with FiberNot only are vegetables naturally low-fat, low-cal and chock-full of nutrients, they help you feel satisfied longer than other types of foods. The fiber will cause your stomach to feel fuller, and you will have a greater sense of satiety, which will help you stay on track. Eating raw veggies as snacks, appetizers, in salads, and side dishes is a great way to keep your appetite in check.
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Forget the D-WordThe holiday season is the most difficult time try to diet. Attempting to follow a strict eating plan when you're not truly committed can induce you to binge on the foods you have eliminated, causing you to gain weight. Focus on maintaining your weight over the holidays by controlling portions, making healthier choices, and getting regular physical activity. You can get back on track with weight loss when the diet danger zones of November and December have passed.
More: 5 Ways to Prevent Holiday Weight Gain
Did you know? You can search the calorie content of almost any food and keep an online food diary for free with the easy-to-use tools at About.com's Calorie Count!