One easy thing that you can do is make your recipes healthier. There are plenty of ways to substitute ingredients to cut fats, sugars and other empty calories, or add fiber. If you are a Weight Watchers member with access to eTools, please, please tell me you're using the Recipe Builder, because (seriously) that alone is worth the price of your Monthly Pass or eTools access. If you are not a WW member, fret not -- there are online ways to tweak your favorite recipe and make it healthier.
First, try substituting lower-fat, lower-calorie, lower-sugar ingredients within a recipe. The Mayo Clinic has this great list of ingredient substitution ideas -- both for baked goods and other items as well. The Heart Center of the Rockies offers these heart-healthy substitutions. In fact, the one item where I wouldn't make any major change is butter ..... if the recipe calls for butter and doesn't say "or margarine" then I'd use a light butter in place of regular butter instead. No offense intended to margarine; it's fine on toast but not always a good substitute for butter in a recipe, due to water content.
Okay, so you have your recipe, you've found some substitutions .... but just how much of a difference do these really make? Try an online recipe analyzer. A good one to try is available at SparkRecipes.com (a division of SparkPeople) -- it's free, and also allows you to save recipes in a recipe box. You can share recipes, but with some copyright restrictions. Anyway, you put in your information by ingredients and measurements, then the number of servings, and a little nutrition label pops up. Try doing it with your original recipe, followed by the one with substitutions. You may see big changes -- you may cut calories, fat, sugars, increase fiber, etc. Or the changes may be smaller than you expect -- at which point you may consider changing portion size rather than ingredient list.
Too much trouble to analyze your favorite recipes? Try these sites that offer healthier options:
- Prevention magazine's Cook! section
- Eat Better America -- "healthified" recipes
- Hungry Girl (more than just recipes, lots of good ideas!)
- Cooking Light magazine
- Start Making Choices (ConAgra Foods)
- Exercise each day. Instead of watching the NFL, play a game of flag football. On Black Friday, do the shopping shuffle. Park far out at the mall and after every 3rd store you buy in, go take your stuff to the car.
- Control your portions. Do you really need a platter -- or that whole turkey leg, Henry VIII? Enjoy your food; don't inhale.
- WW members -- hit a meeting. Or two or three. However many you need. Friday, Saturday, maybe even Sunday if they have it. Wednesday night before Thanksgiving. Go online and find a meeting near you if you're traveling. Get your support in.
- So you had a bad Turkey Day? Get back on track Friday. No excuses. None of this, "I'll wait till Monday." Each new day is a new opportunity; make the most of them.