Southeast Dairy Association - Blue Cheese Apricot Puffs

This season, many people will receive an unwanted gift that is difficult to return–holiday weight gain. In fact, research shows that a combination of changes in lifestyle cause the average American to gain more than 1 ½ pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. While this may not sound like much, it can add up over time. The good news is you don’t have to accept the gift of weight gain this year. Follow these three easy tips to help you “lighten” the holidays.

Lighten Stress

The first tip is to lighten your stress this holiday season. Research shows that we are more likely to eat extra calories and store more fat when we are stressed than when we are relaxed.

Southeast Dairy Association - Georgia Cheese Board

When it comes to holiday entertaining, stress is hard to escape. Serving a cheese board with a variety of whole-grain crackers, fresh and dried fruit and nuts provides a no-cook, no-hassle choice for the host and a wow factor for your guests. Or offer Bleu Cheese Apricot Puffs, which are the perfect bite-sized portion. 

Whether your guests are vegetarian, lactose intolerant or just picky, cheese pleases everyone. Cheese’s high-quality protein will satisfy hungry appetites and the variety of flavors and textures will delight even the pickiest of eaters. Did you know that natural cheeses like Cheddar and Swiss are naturally low in lactose?

Go Light on Food

Stay light by choosing to eat more plant-based foods that won’t weigh you down. One of the best ways to ensure that you are staying on track during the holidays is to design your plate after the USDA MyPlate. Fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables, one quarter with lean protein and the other quarter with whole grains. And don’t forget the dairy! The MyPlate eating method works for an appetizer plate or a dinner plate.

Southeast Dairy Association - spinach artichoke dip

Dairy foods are packed with high-quality protein, which helps curb hunger and provides essential vitamins and minerals to keep you healthy and light throughout the holidays. Baked Spinach Artichoke Dip is the perfect accompaniment to any holiday table. It is made with low-fat yogurt, which provides probiotics that can help boost your immunity during the draining holiday season. Pair it with antioxidant-rich vegetables for a nutritious appetizer that won’t weigh you down.

Light Up Your Metabolism

Exercise seems difficult to maintain during the holidays, but it can light up your metabolism and spark your energy. Ignite your body’s natural calorie burn by aiming for 10,000 steps every day. Steps don’t have to be logged at the gym. They can be achieved by adding small activities throughout the day like parking in the back of the parking lot when holiday shopping, taking the stairs instead of the elevator or dancing to your favorite holiday song at parties.

Don’t forget to hydrate while staying active during the holidays. In fact, a new study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggested trading in your water bottle for a milk bottle to hydrate best. The researchers found that the combination of natural sugar, fat, protein and sodium in milk did the best job of hydrating participants. So, if you need an afternoon pick-me-up, choose a creamy latte topped with cinnamon. The milk in the latte contains 9 essential nutrients that your body needs to keep up with the holiday frenzy.

Stay healthy this holiday season by going light on stress, light on food and lighting up your metabolism. Entertain with a no-hassle cheese board, design your plate after MyPlate and stay active by moving daily for at least 30 minutes. With these tips, you can celebrate a healthier you and look forward to a bright new year.

Southeast Dairy Association - Lanier Dabruzzi

Lanier Dabruzzi, MS, RD, LD