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How to Eat Healthy at Easter Dinner

Mar 25, 2013
Easter has different meanings for different people. For some it's a celebration of rebirth and new life, for others, the beginning of Spring or just time with the family. However you plan your celebration, it probably involves a heavy day of eating. But don't worry, you can still eat right this Easter. Just make sure to follow this advice:

Portions and Spacing

If you're like me, and by me I mean the majority of people with multiple families to visit, you'll most likely be sitting down to more than one Easter table. Since it is often impolite to not eat at a relatives' (we all know what happens when Aunt Penny finds out you didn't try any of her candied yams), you can avoid gorging while still enjoying family favorites. Try to watch your portion sizes if you know that you'll be eating multiple times later in the day. A small plate of assorted family specialties keeps you in their good graces while not making you feel like a hog stuffed for roasting.

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Ham it Up, You Turkey

Speaking of hogs, ham is an Easter tradition in my house. Many times it can be prepared as a low sodium, or low fat version of the traditional Easter ham. If your gathering is featuring the old fashioned kind, you can avoid the fat and sodium by opting to roast a turkey. It's lean (if you stick with the white meat) and still a great source of protein. Not to mention the amount of awesome leftover turkey sandwiches you can pack for the next two weeks, which will help you spring into your healthy looking beach body.

Old World Traditions

Generally, Easter is a "better for you" food holiday. While you should not be going through boxes of marshmallow peeps or peanut butter eggs, the occasional hard boiled egg (dyed or not) isn't bad for you. In my family, our Italian heritage comes out and we make homemade ravioli and gnocchi with whole wheat flour and other natural ingredients. By choosing to put the time into making your Easter dinner, you know what goes into it and you can be as healthy with the ingredients as you want. This is a great option if you or your guests have dietary concerns like gluten or lactose allergies.

A Special Day, Regular Eating

Easter is most definitely a special holiday for most of us. However, that doesn't mean you can't eat like it's a regular day. Not overeating, watching portion sizes, choosing options that are beneficial to your fitness goals, and other key "will power" choices can help you eat right on Easter (or any holiday, for that matter). Often we'll use holidays as an excuse to cheat from healthy living. You don't need to cheat! You can build holiday eating and holiday favorites into a healthy lifestyle by simply making good choices and being more conscious of the fuel you put in your body. Happy Easter, and Happy Eating!

Ryan Barnhart, MS, PES, is a certified Performance Enhancement and Injury Prevention Specialist through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). He also holds a master's degree in exercise science, as well as a bachelor of sport management, both from California University of Pennsylvania. Ryan has worked with numerous collegiate and amateur athletes across many different fields. Ryan also has had the opportunity to work with several professional athletes. Recently he has worked with amateur and professional athletes within the emerging sport of Mixed Martial Arts.

Ryan is currently the director of fitness at a 700+ member gym near Pittsburgh, PA. He enjoys working with weekend warriors, athletes, and everyone in between. You can contact Ryan at rbbarnhart@gmail.com.



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