Healthy Eating Tips for the Holidays

You can make it from Halloween through New Year’s and remain on your weight loss plan or at least avoid gaining weight—here’s how to eat right and still enjoy the holiday season.

There are so many temptations during the holiday season—an ever-growing period of time that stretches from before Halloween through New Year’s Eve (and returns for the Super Bowl and Valentine’s Day).

Giving up great food isn’t an option so we have developed strategies to make sure our waistlines don’t grow along with the festive season. Read on for tips on how to enjoy parties and celebratory meals like Thanksgiving without gaining weight (or having to chain yourself to an elliptical trainer and subsist on air-popped popcorn for a month or so).

Healthy Eating Tips for Holiday Parties & Dinners

Choose Low-Calorie And Healthy Festive Foods

Baked Brie and creamy dips are festive calorie bombs, yet plenty of other party foods are naturally low in calories and seem equally merry. Go for crudités, lean deli meats, chicken kebabs, salsa (instead of using chips, spoon up thicker salsa straight from your plate or with a thin slice of English cucumber, zucchini, or a piece of chicken), steamed asparagus (one large spear has only four calories, boiled shrimp. Skip the cracker when eating hard cheeses.

Bring The Healthy Fare To Parties And Potlucks

To guarantee there’s something healthy on the buffet, volunteer to bring it yourself. Take seasonal salads, homemade bean dip, or a big batch of roasted root vegetables, all of which provide flavorful, filling alternatives to foods higher in fat and calories.

Don’t Hover Around The Buffet Table

When you’re at a party buffet table, choose three or four items you really want to eat, then step away from the table so you’re not tempted to graze. If you’re in the middle of an interesting conversation or standing on the other side of the room from the food, you’re less likely to keep absentmindedly refilling your plate. To entice yourself away from the buffet we suggest trying to meet at least one new person or checking out the decor in your host’s home.

Use A Napkin

An easy way to monitor portion size is to put food on a small plate, or even better, on a napkin. It’s a simple trick: You can’t fit as much on a napkin, so you won’t eat as much. Another option: Take a big plate and fill it up once, taking one spoonful—not multiples—of each dish. Do not return for seconds.

Hit The Veggie Tray

Filling up on high-fiber and low-cal raw vegetables, salad, or broth-based (not creamy) soups is a good strategy. Starting a meal with raw veggies fills the stomach with fiber-rich foods that provide a feeling of fullness. Eating raw veggies also slows down the eating process, giving your stomach the 20 minutes it needs to signal the brain that it’s getting full.

Follow The Three-Bite Rule

When dining at a restaurant, only take a few bites of a dish. Studies have shown that after the third bite, your taste buds don’t register the flavors as sharply, so unless it’s amazing, it’s not worth the calories. You can always take the leftovers home.

Drink Plenty Of Water And Avoid Alcoholic Beverages

Before you eat, drink at least eight ounces of water, tea, or coffee so that your thirst is quenched and your stomach already feels a little full. Drinking water before having an alcoholic beverage (and between alcoholic drinks) is also a good idea: You will be less likely to gulp down the alcoholic drink to quench your thirst. Avoid alcoholic beverages if possible. A diet 7 up or club soda with a lemon or lime in it is much better for you. If you must have an alcoholic beverage, limit yourself to one or two drinks for the evening, and in order to keep to it, tell a friend who can make sure you adhere to that.

Keep Liquid Calories In Check

Eggnog—the famously fatty beverage of the holidays—has a whopping 343 calories and 11 grams of saturated fat per cup. Get the flavor of the season with a shot glass–size serving of nog if you must, then stick to water, drinks made with seltzer, club soda or diet soft drinks. A five-ounce glass of red wine has only 125 calories. Not sure what five ounces looks like? Before a party, measure out five ounces of water and pour it into a wineglass just to remind yourself what a ‘serving’ looks like.

Healthy Eating Rules to Follow Every Day During Holiday Season

Bakers, Beware

If you bake during the holidays, keep one day’s worth of treats and give everything else away—either bring the surplus to work, give it to neighbors or family, or send it to your spouse’s or roommate’s office.

Regift Food Presents

If you get a food gift, share it with others so you can’t eat it all by yourself.

Say No To Junk Food

Don’t blow your calories on low-quality sweets. There are so many good homemade treats to enjoy at this time of year that there’s no reason to buy an ordinary candy bar or take something from the candy jar at work just because you’re having a craving. Try to save your snack “allowance” for better desserts that will really make you feel satisfied. Change dessert recipes to use sugar substitutes and low-fat, low carb substitutions when possible.

Consider Setting A Few Ground Rules

There are a few general guidelines you should try to follow. Avoid anything fried; use vegetables instead of crackers or chips for dips, and dip only every other vegetable instead of every one.

Don’t Turn Shopping Sprees Into Eating Sprees

The holiday season is incredibly busy, and we all are on the go. When shopping or out running holiday errands, try to set aside time to eat and plan what and where to eat. In lieu of fast food restaurants, seek out a healthier restaurant near the shops you’re going to, or eat before you go. Bring a bag of almonds, an energy bar, or dried fruit to tide you over if hunger strikes.

Eat Three Square Meals Every Day And Snacks, Eating Every 2 To 3 Hours

Sure, it might make sense on paper to slash calories by skipping meals during the day when you know you’re going to have a big feast later, but this strategy often backfires and can lead to overeating, low energy, and generally feeling bad. Take the time to have a decent-sized breakfast that includes plenty of protein, complex carbohydrates, and some dairy, all of which will help you feel full and keep your energy up. Eating every 2 to 3 hours avoids hunger and speeds up the metabolism. You can accomplish this by eating 3 healthy meals a day and a healthy snack mid-morning and mid-afternoon.

The same advice goes for lunch and pre-party snacks or dinners. If you’re going to a party where you can’t count on a meal being served, eat a healthy, satisfying dinner with plenty of protein, but make the meal a little bit smaller than usual, so you can justify a couple of healthy appetizers at the party.

Add Exercise Whenever And Wherever You Can

 

 

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