I don’t know about you, but I love this time of year. I enjoy the beautiful decorations and spending extra time with family and friends. There’s a lot to do and a lot to EAT. It seems like all my gatherings center around eating. Which is exactly why staying healthy during the holidays can be a challenge.
That’s why I have put together this easy guide that will help you go all out and deck the halls with boughs of holly, but when it comes to holiday food and beverages, these tips to avoid overeating during the holidays will help you accessorize with care.
So here we go:
- Use a Napkin. An effortless way to monitor portion size is to put food on a napkin. It’s a simple trick: You can’t fit as much on a napkin, so you won’t eat as much.
- Hit the Veggie Tray. Filling up on high-fiber and low-cal raw vegetables, is a strategy for many. Starting a meal with raw veggies fills the tummy 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.”
- Make Friends with Water. Drink at least 6-8 eight ounces glasses of water before the party so your stomach already feels a little full. And have at least one 8-ounce glass of water between each cocktail.
- 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 eggnog, and then stick to water or drinks made with seltzer. 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.
- Bring Mints to Parties. Once you’ve had your fill of the food at a party, pop a mint in your mouth. You won’t be as tempted to nosh—plus, your breath will be fresher than anyone else’s. This is a good tip to use when baking or cooking also.
- 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.
- Re-gift Food Presents. If you get a food gift, share it with others so you don’t eat it all by yourself.
- Say No to Junk Food. Don’t blow your calories on low-quality sweets and junk food. 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. Anyway, if you are utilizing the “crowding out” tip I have given from a previous post, you won’t have the cravings.
- Consider Setting a Few Ground Rules. While I am opposed to the concept of “forbidden foods,” I do have a few general guidelines I try to follow. For example, at parties I avoid fried food; I use vegetables instead of crackers for dips and soft cheese, and I dip every other vegetable instead of everyone.
- Don’t Turn Shopping Sprees into Eating Sprees. Instead of resorting to fatty pizza or other fast foods, seek out a healthier restaurant near the shops you’re going to, or eat before you go. Maybe bring a bag of almonds, an energy bar, or dried fruit to tide you over if hunger strikes.
- Add Exercise Whenever and Wherever You Can. When you go shopping, park your car a little farther away. Make sure you schedule in your exercise as exercise will give you a little leeway to indulge while still keeping your weight stable. Plus, it’ll help you to better handle the stress of the busy season.
- Make Your Goals Realistic. This time of year, is about celebrations and food is an intrinsic part of that. Rather than striving to overhaul your diet and lose weight during the holidays, try to maintain your current weight. Aim to be really healthy during non-holiday meals so you can feel indulgent at the holiday meals or parties.
- Wear snug clothes and keep one hand busy. When you wear snug-fitting attire, chances are you’ll be too busy holding in your stomach to overeat. While you stand around looking posh in your holiday finery, hold a drink in your dominant hand so it won’t be so easy to grab food.
- Be a food snob. If you don’t love it, don’t eat it. And don’t think it’s your responsibility to sample everything on the buffet. Go ahead and have a few your personal holiday favorites, then find a seat and, slowly and mindfully, savor every mouthful.
- No skipping meals. Always eat normally on the day of a party. Start with a nourishing breakfast, have a light lunch, then a small snack or salad shortly before the event.
- Check it out. First things first. When you arrive at the party, grab a sparkling water with a twist, and wait at least 30 minutes before eating. This will give you time to relax, get comfortable in your surroundings, and survey your food choices before diving in.
- Alternate alcohol with nonalcoholic beverages. Alcoholic drinks are loaded with calories — especially holiday favorites like eggnog. Cut your alcohol calories in half by alternating water or seltzer between alcoholic beverages.
- Limit the variety. Put only two items on your plate and return as many times as you like, but only take two items each time.
- Choose healthy festive foods. Baked Brie and creamy dips are festive calorie bombs. There are plenty of other party foods that are healthy, naturally low in calories and seem equally merry. Go for crudités, chicken kebabs, salsa (instead of using chips, spoon up thicker salsa on a cucumber slice), steamed asparagus (one larger spear has only four calories), boiled shrimp (22 calories for four large), and grapes (two calories a piece). On a cheese tray, go for lower-calorie selections such as soft goat cheese and Feta, and skip the cracker and spread soft cheese on a cucumber slice.
- Bring the healthy fare to the party. To guarantee there’s something healthy on the table, volunteer to bring it yourself. My favorite is a big batch of roasted root vegetables which super easy to make and provide flavorful, filling alternatives to foods higher in fat and calories.
- Act like an Accountant. Instead of saying, “There’s always room for dessert,” actually leave room for it. If you know you’re going to want dessert, rather than denying yourself, simply cut back on the hors d’oeuvres or dinner—this can be as simple as not having bread or avoiding the pasta and having mostly salad or veggies.
- Don’t Hover Around the Table. When you’re at a party table, choose three or four items you really want to eat, and then step away from the table. 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
Wow…there are quite a few tips here. Think of these tips as an investment not only in yourself but in everyone around you. You know why? Because everyone around you loves you and when you are not feeling good about yourself, everyone around you suffers.
On the flip side, when you take care of yourself and focus on your good health, you have the energy to give everyone you love your best.
The most important thing is to take care of yourself and feel good about yourself when the holidays are over.
So, what do you think? How will you take care of yourself this holiday season?