Pies and Tris: Surviving and Thriving this Holiday

Sweet Potato, Sprinkled with CinnamonHoliday time is here, and with it come the treats and feasts of the season. Some folks began as early as Halloween, snacking on the never-diminishing candy stash. Others have social events or obligations every week until January. Many throw all caution to the wind, vowing to take control back come the New Year. And then there are the committed triathletes who worry that indulging during the holidays will negate their efforts in preparing for race season. But going to extremes in either direction is not necessary. Here’s how you can have your pie and eat it too.

First, consider this not a stretch of weeks defined by temptation and gluttony. Rather, there are several isolated meals and parties that span the season. Each of which can be approached like any other meal—with pre-planning and prioritizing. Have a general idea of what the meals will entail. If you are hosting then you have insider information as to what is served. Choose traditional recipes that are modified for more healthful meals. An excellent resource is myrecipes.com, which provides a variety of selections complete with nutrition information. If you are attending a friend’s or family member’s gathering offer to bring one or two dishes that you know will fit into your nutrition plan. A reduced-fat cornbread or roasted butternut squash is simple enough even for the most culinary challenged of us.

Next, be sure to prioritize your selections. Most holiday meals are served buffet or family style. That’s not an invitation to have large portions of every item on display. Take inventory first, and go for what looks best. Don’t waste your time on the choices that you’d rank as just okay. If you love stuffing but only tolerate mashed potatoes, politely decline the latter.

Finally, perform a little math. Making wise substitutions will buy you room for dessert. Shrinking portion sizes and selecting lean options compared with higher calorie counterparts are key. Consider the numbers on this traditional meal:

Choose… Instead of… Save*
Turkey breast, no skin, 6 ounces Turkey dark meat with skin, 6 ounces 75 Calories
Sweet potato, sprinkle cinnamon Sweet potato casserole 110
Green beans, misted olive oil Green bean casserole 210 Calories
Cranberry sauce, 1 tablespoon Turkey gravy, ¼ cup 30 Calories
Whole grain roll, 2 ounces Stuffing, 1 cup 230 Calories

Total: 655

*Calories estimated from various recipes, and average representations were chosen.

You have made discerning item selections and you have even tapped into some brain power. For those efforts you’ve earned your just desserts. Trade in your saved calories for a slice of apple pie, topped with a half-cup of light (double churned) ice cream, which will run you about 550 calories. Enjoy with tea or decaf coffee, and you have a pretty perfect holiday meal. And best of all, you have neither sacrificed enormously nor gorged offensively. Chances are, you’ll feel lean and strong at your next training session—just give yourself some time to digest!

Rebecca has recently relocated with her family to San Diego, CA. With year-round heated pools, pot-hole-free roads and plenty of open trails, she’s enjoying swimming, biking and running entirely outdoors. Check out Rebecca’s adventure to follow the pursuit of recreation, baked goods, and anything else a new San Diegan might find!