The holidays are fast approaching, bringing with it family gatherings, company parties and get-togethers with friends combined with the hectic days of holiday shopping and preparation. If you’re like me, it’s easy to fall prey to unhealthy eating with quick fixes such as fast food, Chinese take-out or pizza delivery. Virtually any meal can be made healthier with just a little planning and with no change in taste when compared to the fat- and calorie-loaded version. I’ve discovered a few tips on my path to healthier eating that help me and my family stay on track.
- Lesson 1: Planning is key. It’s much easier to stick to healthy eating if you plan your meals in advance. I know you’re thinking “who has time for that?” However, making time to plan will save you calories and precious time during a busy week. All you need is 30 minutes or less. Perhaps plan while having your Saturday morning coffee. You’ll be rewarded with a week of meals and a grocery list.
- Lesson 2: The “Try Everything” rule. My son eats chicken, chicken and more chicken, with a bit of broccoli thrown in. However, we have a standing rule that he must try a bite of everything on his plate. In the past, my son would never eat potatoes but once, on a whim, I bought and roasted the cute, tiny versions and he instantly loved them. I’m not sure if it was the cute factor or the flavor, but I succeeded in getting him to eat another vegetable.
- Lesson 3: Don’t be afraid to experiment. Most soups that call for heavy cream can be lightened by using fat free half-and-half or skim milk, with no change to the overall taste. Dips that call for mayo and/or cream cheese can be substituted with their lighter versions. You can even try fat free substitutions in dips, although I have experienced a significant taste change when swapping with fat free mayo vs light. Most mayo-based pasta salads can be lightened by using plain Greek yogurt.
- Lesson 4: Prep in advance as much as possible. As a working mom, I value the weekends and I don’t want to spend an entire weekend day prepping the week’s meals to freeze for use later. But I do take 15 or 20 minutes to chop an onion since I use it a lot for flavor, chop veggies that are used in a salad or cut a crown of broccoli for a side dish. It will save you valuable time during the week; it’s so nice to just pull out a bag of chopped veggies during a busy week of work, carpool and carting the kids to sports practices.
- Lesson 5: If at first you don’t succeed… If I try a lightened up a recipe and I get an “It’s OK” from my husband, I go back to the drawing board. Usually the lukewarm response is because a spice needs to be added and not the lighter version of oil/fat affecting the taste. I have a junk food junkie husband so I have to be able to fool him with flavor so he doesn’t realize he’s eating healthier.
Hopefully, these tips will help you on your way to a healthier meal for your family and a few less calories during the holidays!
This post was written by Michelle Fleer. Contact Michelle at email@example.com
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