We are finally getting into the swing of the holiday season! Even if the holidays look a little different this year, our favorite seasonal desserts will likely still make an appearance. While it can be easy to think the holiday season will set you back in your health goals, that doesn’t have to be the case. Check out the following tips and tricks to balance your health goals with the tasty treats that come around this time of year.
- Be mindful.
The holidays are a PERFECT time to practice mindful eating. When enjoying dessert, eat slowly and take time to truly enjoy the taste, texture, and aroma of what you’re eating. This will allow you to savor your food and feel satisfied with a smaller portion. Also, be sure to pay attention to your body’s hunger cues. Stop eating when you are full and satisfied, rather than eating until you are uncomfortably full.
- Enjoy your dessert with your meal.
Instead of having a full dinner plate followed by another full dessert plate, try serving them to yourself at the same time! Adding your holiday dessert to the same plate as your meal can help you control the portions you enjoy. With a plate full of vegetables, protein, and starch, you won’t be as tempted to overdo it with the number of sweets you add to your plate.
- Avoid “saving up” your calories.
Often, we may be tempted to eat very little during the day with a splurging mindset during the main holiday meal. However, this strategy can be counterproductive. If you are starving before a meal, it can be easy to eat a huge plate followed by seconds, topped off with a large portion of holiday sweets. Then, before you know it, you find yourself almost painfully full. Instead, try having a balanced breakfast and lunch during the day to stay on top of your hunger. That way, when it comes time for your holiday meal, you can more easily make food and portion choices that align with your health goals—and you may even be able to avoid feeling too stuffed at the end of the night.
- Get creative with ingredient swaps.
While we encourage you to enjoy the classic versions of your favorite holiday treats in moderation, you always have the option of swapping ingredients to add a nutrient-dense twist. Here are some of our favorite sweet swaps:
- Use avocado instead of butter when baking. This swap replaces the saturated fat found in butter with heart-healthy unsaturated fat, fiber, and vitamins and minerals found in avocados. Check out the California Avocados website for instructions on this swap.
- Enjoy cinnamon baked apples in place of apple pie. Traditional apple pie can be loaded with saturated fat and butter. Instead, try serving these quick Festive Microwave Baked Apples!
- Try baking with whole wheat pastry flour. This flour provides a soft texture perfect for muffins, pie crusts, pastries, and cookies while retaining nutrients from the bran and germ of the grain (which are removed from refined grains).
- Check out some of our favorite lighter dessert recipes: Fruit Baked Holiday Dessert, Healthy Pumpkin Pecan Bars, and these No-Bake Strawberry Brownie Bites!
Navigating the holiday dessert table doesn’t have to be stressful. Using the tips above, you can stick to your health goals while still enjoying the seasonal sweets. And even if you happen to overdo it, you can always refocus and return to those healthy habits that make you feel your best the next day. If you are looking for more individualized strategies for the holiday season, sign up for a virtual dietitian appointment today.
Disclaimer: This information is educational only and not providing healthcare recommendations. Please see a healthcare provider.