For breakfast, it’s chocolate eggs followed by fluffy neon marshmallows and jellybeans for lunch, finished with a hunk of ham and a heaping helping of scalloped potatoes for dinner. If that sounds like your Easter weekend menu, you’re not alone. But don’t worry, there’s still time to prepare so you can enjoy a festive holiday full of healthy, delicious meals all while avoiding holiday weight gain.
Here are five healthy tips to keep in mind this Easter weekend:
Plan Your Plates
If you’ll be celebrating all day – say a brunch in the morning and a feast later in the afternoon – plan accordingly. Try to eat lighter dishes in the morning like fruits and high-fiber grains, avoiding heavy portions of creamy sauces, butter and cheeses. For dinner, focus on lean meat proteins or seafood and colorful vegetables or leafy greens.
A Sample vs. A Serving
For hosted meals, it can sometimes seem impolite not to try all of the lovely dishes the host has prepared. However, you can be polite by sampling each dish without scooping a whole serving onto your plate. Stick to small portions and select foods you’ll enjoy eating without guilt.
Be Ready for Breaks
For long breaks between meals, don’t let yourself go hungry. Keep small, nutritious snacks like nuts or dried fruits on hand so you can happily munch without getting full on empty calories and candy, which will surely be lying around.
Give to Get
Easter treats are some of the tastiest all year – from carrot and coconut cakes to cheesecakes, pies, trifles, and the list goes on. That’s a lot of dessert to think about! But you need to! Before you dig in, ask yourself what you’re willing to give or give up in order to indulge in some decadence. Maybe you’re willing to wake up an hour early to go on a long run, squeeze in extra gym visits this week, or cut out sweets for the following week in order to enjoy some now. Whatever it is you’re willing to sacrifice, make sure it’s big enough to cover the calorie cost AND that you actually stick to it.
Share Your Favorites
Everyone has a favorite holiday dish but it’s likely that those favorites are also the unhealthiest. If you’re attending a meal with family and friends, perhaps offer to bring a healthy salad or side dish that you’ve come to love. Doing so might actually inspire some of your loved ones to become more mindful eaters. The added bonus of encouraging the people you love to join you in the quest for a healthier lifestyle is that it can help you to stay motivated and on track.
Hosting your own celebration? Here are a few suggestions to keep in mind:
- Mix It Up
Provide guests with an array of healthy snacking and mealtime options including leafy greens, colorful vegetables, a fruit salad and lean meats.
- Sideline the Sauces
Keep the rich sauces and their healthy alternatives on the side so guests can choose what and how much to add atop their selections.
- Hide the Salt
Most guests will be so distracted by great company and a beautiful meal (one they didn’t have to prepare!) that they won’t even think to ask anyone to pass the salt. You can keep the shaker nearby but off the table, just in case.
- Switch It Up
Try some healthy ingredient swaps in your recipes that guests might not even notice such as:
- Part-skim ricotta cheese instead of its full-fat equivalent.
- Olive oil and balsamic vinegar for bread instead of butter to lower bad cholesterol and reap the heart healthy benefits of olive oil.
- Baked potato instead of buttery, creamy mashed potatoes or rice for three times the fiber and twenty percent of your daily dose of potassium to help control blood pressure.
When you’re looking to stave off the additional weight-gain that can often accompany large holiday celebrations, a little bit of planning and thoughtfulness can go a long way. With your action plan laid out in front of you, you’ll be able to enjoy yourself without the pounds that can show up (and stay) after the guests, plastic eggs and Easter Bunny have long departed.