Health-focused celebrity chef Candice Kumai loves food as much as she loves staying lean and healthy. The author of Pretty Delicious and co-host of Lifetime’s Cook Yourself Thin sat down with us to share her top healthy living tips that you can put into practice during the holidays as well as throughout the year. Here are eight really easy ways to stay slim, trim, and happy.
Put your mind on moderation
Moderation isn’t a faddish new way of eating — even the greatest foodies practice it.”Always live by the words of the great Julia Child: All things in moderation, including moderation,” encourages Kumai, who is a Top Chef alum and new judge on Iron Chef America. “Remember that last part…we can’t all be saints during the holidays, but we can certainly moderate ourselves.”
Indulge a little
The holidays certainly lend many opportunities for indulging, but you’re faced with food temptations all year round. Kumai actually suggests giving in. But don’t go overboard. “Indulge if you want to,” she says. “When you want something sweet, grab a little bit of my favorite, Pure Dark chocolate, or, when you feel like French fries, have a few!” As a tasty side note, Kumai recently partnered with Pure Dark, an artisanal chocolate made in small batches from premium cocao beans (this chocolate is amazing!), to create healthy yet decadent chocolate recipes just for those times your cravings for sweets arise.
Cook yourself thin!
Healthy substitutions are an easy must-do in both holiday and everyday cooking. “Use clever swapouts like olive oil for butter, Greek yogurt for sour cream and mayonnaise, or almond milk for milk or cream,” says Kumai. “Cut calories with beverages by drinking water or soda water.”
Never go hungry
Don’t think skipping breakfast and lunch is going to lead to weight loss. Kumai recommends against starving yourself on days you plan to attend parties and to never go hours without eating during your routine days, especially before you head to the grocery store or when you’re getting ready to cook. “Don’t get too hungry…this will help you avoid insane binge eating,” the celeb chef adds.
Use a small plate
Did you know that your plate size really does make a difference? “If you fill a smaller plate, it visually tricks your eye into believing that your plate is full,” explains Kumai. “So always opt for the small plate and, when attending holiday gatherings or cocktail parties, follow the 80:20 Rule: 80% healthy foods and 20% indulgent foods.” Also, limit yourself to one plate.
During the winter, it’s especially tempting to stay curled up on the couch by the fireplace, but Kumai urges you to get outside and move your bod. “The weather is no excuse to not go out and work it,” says the healthy chef. “Call a girlfriend to come over and gossip while you’re taking a stroll bundled up in warm winter gear.” If the weather is truly frightful, Kumai recommends, “Take a yoga class or do the Insanity workout DVD at home.” Sticking to an exercise program during the months of inclement weather increases the likelihood you’ll exercise year round.
Make family time to be happy
The holidays give you a reason to get together with family and friends, but Kumai recommends spending time with those you love now and throughout the year. Having fun with loved ones can boost your mood, which means you’ll feel less stressed and less prone to emotional eating. “Being happy is a very healthy feeling, so spend quality time with your loved ones, whether it’s a card game, a walk in the park, baking with Mom, or even doing her dishes,” she adds.
Give to others
Though the holiday season brings giving to the forefront of your thoughts, you can bless others all year. Kumai recommends donating your time and resources to those in need as a way to improve your health and happiness. She says, “Giving is good for your soul, so make time to donate to a shelter, cook for those in need, or simply grab some canned food and take it to your local food bank.”