It’s true the majority of us won’t eat any healthier during the holidays, but if you are looking for some ways to cut back on the carbs, sugar and fat, it is possible with some easy swaps.
One of the biggest downfalls of holiday eating, says registered dietitian Nicole Osinga, is that we don’t focus on intuitive eating.
“Ask yourself what type of hunger you’re experiencing. Are you eating because you haven’t eaten in a few hours and you are experiencing a physical need for food? Or are you eating because you are anxious or just because you enjoy the physical pleasure of food, in the absence of stomach hunger?,” she tells Global News.
“Try tracking what you eat for a few days and categorize each meal into each of the above types of hunger. Once you get into this habit, you will be able to better identify the reasons you are eating around the holidays.”
The goal, she adds, is to become more in touch with your physical hunger cues.
Food and nutrition expert Patricia Chuey, says other bad habits include eating past the point of being full, even on healthy food.
“It is not good for your heart, blood pressure, blood sugar, weight and energy and may leave you feeling too sluggish to stay active,” she tells Global News.
Osinga adds other ways to stay healthy include putting your fork down between every bite (this will help you slow down and actually enjoy the meal), filling up your plate with non-starchy veggies first and clearing the table when you’re done eating, instead of picking at leftovers.
Chuey says you also shouldn’t treat every meal like “the last supper.” This isn’t the last time you’re going to indulge in a meal like this.
But a lot of healthy eating comes down to the meal being served. If you have the pleasure of cooking this year’s holiday dinner or if you’re bringing an item to a potluck, our experts give us easy (and tasty) swaps that put nutrition first.
Mashed potatoes to cauliflower mash
Switching to a mashed cauliflower dish will cut back on carbs, and add more nutrients and fibre to your meal, Osinga says.
Cheese dips to healthier dips
We’re so used to picking up cheese-based dips or salsas at the grocery store for chips, instead, try a healthier dip made with Greek yogurt, spinach or beets. “A vehicle for eating more veggies, more protein and less calories compared to classic dips,” Osinga says.
Shepherd’s pie to vegan sweet potato shepherd’s pie
Switching to a vegan shepherd’s pie means more vitamin A, protein and iron, Osinga says. She recommends this recipe.
Store-bought treats to baked ones
Chuey says anything homemade is better than the grocery store alternative, even if this means making cookies. This way you can control the ingredients as well as the nutrition going into your treats.
Mediocre-quality chocolate for dark chocolate
We’ve all had terrible chocolate during the holidays — either at a gift exchange or family dinner. Chuey says we end up eating mediocre-quality chocolate only because it’s there. Try gifting or serving dark chocolate instead.