Have a Happy – and Healthier – Holiday Season

By Ramona Cash, Personal Health Coach at LifeSynch, a Humana company

It’s a special time of year as we reconnect with family and friends at holiday gatherings. But these social events usually involve tempting treats that can derail our healthy eating goals. Statistics show that most Americans gain at least a pound during the holidays. That may not sound so bad, but an extra pound or two every year adds up.  How do you prevent the weight gain while not skipping any of the fun of the season? It can (almost) be as easy as 1-2-3.

  1. Holiday parties: Don’t arrive hungry! Eat a small healthful snack, such as Greek yogurt or a handful of nuts, before you leave home. If you arrive with an empty stomach, you are more likely to stay at the buffet table and load up on sweets and fatty foods.
  2. Make time for exercise: A moderate, daily increase in exercise can help offset a little holiday overindulgence. Make it fun and you’re more likely to stay on track. Incorporate exercise into your family traditions: Go for a walk instead of a drive to enjoy Christmas lights. Instead of watching TV or videos, get the whole family involved in an activity such as bowling or playing an interactive fitness game like Your Shape 2012.
  3. Limit alcohol: Holiday drinks can be full of empty calories and increase the likelihood of mindless snacking. Drink more water and replace high-calorie alcoholic beverages with lower-calorie alternatives such as a wine spritzer (2 ounces of wine mixed with club soda and a little cranberry juice)

Spiced apple cider

  • 4 cups apple cider
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 1/2 cup apple brandy
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon schnapps
  • Cinnamon sticks for garnish

Bring apple cider, cinnamon stick and cloves to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add brandy and schnapps. Garnish with a cinnamon stick and serve hot.

Calorie count: 143 per 3/4-cup serving. Makes 6 servings.

Skinny Egg Nog

  • 3 cups nonfat milk
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • freshly grated nutmeg for garnish

Warm 2-1/2 cups milk in a medium saucepan. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds; add the seeds and pod to the saucepan and simmer over medium heat. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar and cornstarch. Temper the eggs by gradually pouring the hot milk mixture, about 1 cup at a time, into the egg mixture, whisking constantly (to avoid making scrambled eggs!). Pour the mixture back into the pan, place over medium heat and stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the eggnog thickens (6-7 minutes). Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining 1/2 cup milk. Remove the vanilla pod and chill until ready to serve. (Optional: Add splash of spiced rum or bourbon, which could significantly increase calorie count.)

Calorie count: 85 per ½-cup serving (without liquor)

Find more healthy eating tips at www.humana.com.