- Keep It Fresh: The advantage of fresh fruits and vegetables is that it provides plenty of fiber which helps you feel full. When entertaining, it’s always good to serve a fresh vegetable platter with a yogurt dip to help curb your appetite which, in turn, helps avoid indulging.
- Replace Salt with Herbs: Going easy on the salt will help keep your blood pressure in check during the most hectic season of the year. That doesn’t mean you have to skimp on flavor—instead of salting your chicken or turkey, how about a combination of lemon peel, garlic and rosemary rubbed under the skin before roasting? Herbs, mustards, spices, onions, garlic, and a dash of chili flakes can make any dish high in flavor. Speaking of poultry, skip the brine—soaking turkey in a sodium solution can add up to 1,300 mg of sodium per pound.
- Variety of Vegetables: Mixing it up with a rainbow of colors is an excellent way to get a wide variety of nutrients from your fruits and veggies. Dark leafy greens such as kale, bok choy, collard greens and spinach are loaded with potassium, folate and vitamins A, E and C. Orange beauties such as carrots, sweet potatoes and winter squash deliver vitamin A and carotenoids, nutrients important for eye health. Purple foods, such as pomegranates and blueberries, contain the antioxidant anthocyanin, which can help support healthy blood pressure. Red foods, such as tomatoes and cranberries, have anti-inflammatory flavonoids.
- Meaty Options: Traditional, fatty cuts of meat—such as brisket or pork loin—are hard on the arteries. A whole roasted fish or poultry can be a festive center of the meal while keeping fat servings in check. However, if you must brisket, trim the fat before you cook and restrict yourself to a small helping.
- Flour & Sugar Options: Refined carbohydrates rule the holiday season, but they play havoc with your blood sugar and digestion. Instead, opt for fiber-rich choices. When baking, swap out white flour for whole wheat pastry flour or white whole wheat flour, and replace the fat and sugar with applesauce or, for extra richness in chocolate desserts, pureed prunes. Cook up a batch of steel cut oatmeal on Sunday and save portions to reheat for breakfast for the rest of the week. Add chopped apple and a small handful of nuts for extra fiber and flavor—maybe with a dash of cinnamon. And don’t overlook a winter salad, using heavier leafy greens and perhaps a few cooked veggies, such as beets or parsnips, for a quick meal or side dish. Add some fermented vegetables, such as sauerkraut or kimchi for extra zing—but check those sodium levels first! Your gut’s microbiome will thank you, as will your cholesterol levels.
- Savor Your Reward: If you’re sticking to a healthy diet, you can dig into an occasional treat. But pass up fried specialties for those that are baked, skip the ice cream and whipped topping, and choose a small portion. And don’t forget to share your indulgence with someone you love.
- Get Moving: One of the first casualties of the frantic holiday season is regular exercise—but there’s plenty of ways to keep your body in motion. If it’s too cold, put on an exercise routine on Youtube or just walk in place.
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