A lot of people seem to throw in the towel health-wise from Halloween through New Year’s. It starts with all that Halloween candy, extends through Thanksgiving, which seems to be synonymous with stuffing ourselves silly, and shifts into even higher gear with this month’s holiday parties and treats. (Eggnog, anyone?)
This year, instead of waiting for January to get back on track, why not focus on making better choices and modifying a few behaviors to improve your health during this potentially unhealthy period?
My Top Tips for a Healthy Holiday Season
The following holiday health tips will help you get started.
Holiday Health Tip #1: Exercise before breakfast. This forces your body to burn stored fat for energy, rather than relying on the food you just ate. This simple technique, which is backed by a six-week Belgian study, will let you feast and party with less guilt—and if you don’t go overboard, you’ll likely lose weight! Even better, if you stick with this healthy habit beyond the holiday season, you’ll be well on your way to achieving serious weight loss in the New Year.
Holiday Health Tip #2: To curb caloric intake, eat something spicy before a big meal. Japanese researchers found that eating hot red pepper at breakfast or in an appetizer before lunch decreased appetite and significantly reduced the number of calories study participants ate.
Holiday Health Tip #3: Take a brisk, 10-minute walk after breakfast, lunch, and dinner—especially larger meals. That burst of exercise will help clear the glucose out of your bloodstream and keep your blood sugar on an even keel.
Holiday Health Tip #4: A small, protein-rich meal early in the day will take the edge off hunger and allow you to make better choices during those holiday feasts. Good options include egg and egg-white scrambles with vegetables, smoothies with added protein powder, or plain Greek yogurt sweetened with a few berries and a little stevia or xylitol.
Holiday Health Tip #5: Opting for white meat instead of dark can trim about 100 calories off those holiday turkey dinners. Also, removing the skin from your turkey reduces the fat grams from six to one in each three-ounce serving.
Holiday Health Tip #6: Swap out one or two of the carb-filled, sugar-loaded dishes typically served during the holidays with a healthy option such as steamed vegetables with a spritz of lemon juice and salt-free seasonings or this delicious blood sugar friendly stuffing from my Reversing Diabetes Cookbook.
6 slices sprouted grain bread
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup chopped onion
½ cup chopped celery
½ cup chopped parsley
¼ cup coarsely chopped pecans
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1¼ cups low-sodium chicken broth
Olive oil spray
Toast bread in a toaster. (Or toast all at once under the broiler, 1 to 2 minutes per side.) Cool and cut into small cubes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and celery and cook until tender, about 3 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine bread crumbs, onion and celery mixture, parsley, pecans, and poultry seasoning. Stir to blend well. Pour chicken broth into the bowl and stir until moistened.
Coat a medium baking dish with olive oil spray. Transfer stuffing to the baking dish, cover, and bake until hot, 30 to 40 minutes. (If you like a crispier top, remove the cover after 25 minutes.)
(Per Serving) 136 calories, 4 g fat, 7 g protein, 18 g carbohydrate, 4 g dietary fiber, 0 mg cholesterol, 195 mg sodium.