With the holidays beginning at Thanksgiving and ending with New Years Eve, its sometimes easy to forget that is over a month festivities. Parties with family and friends, work functions and spontaneous celebrations can leave the careful eating habits that you’ve cultivated all year chucked out the window. So here is a list that I’ve compiled of all the most helpful tips and tricks that you can use at holiday functions that will help keep you healthy when you’re touring the holiday social circuit.
Healthy Holiday Eating Tips
Don’t try to lose weight during the holidays. Think about it – all the temptation at the social functions you’re going to attend will set you up for failure. Instead try to maintain your weight.
Make time for exercise.
Exercise helps relieve holiday stress and prevent weight gain. If you keep your intensity level moderate and daily increase in exercise can help partially offset increased holiday eating. Try 10- or 15-minute brisk walks twice a day.
Don’t skip meals.
Before leaving for a party, eat a light snack like raw vegetables or a piece of fruit to curb your appetite. You will be less tempted to over-indulge.
Take a look around before you decide on what you are going to eat. Choose your favorite foods and skip your least favorite. Include vegetables and fruits to keep your plate balanced.
Eat until you are satisfied, not stuffed.
Savor your favorite holiday treats while eating small portions. Sit down, get comfortable, and enjoy.
Be careful with beverages.
Alcohol can lessen inhibitions and induce overeating; non-alcoholic beverages can be full of calories and sugar. Choose wisely
If you overeat at one meal go light on the next.
It takes 500 calories per day (or 3,500 calories per week) above your normal/maintenance consumption to gain one pound. It is impossible to gain weight from one piece of pie!
Take the focus off food.
Turn candy and cookie making time into non-edible projects like making wreaths, dough art decorations or a gingerbread house. Plan group activities with family and friends that aren’t all about food. Try serving a holiday meal to the community, playing games or going on a walking tour of decorated homes.
Bring your own healthy dish to a holiday gathering.
Practice Healthy Holiday Cooking.
Preparing favorite dishes lower in fat and calories will help promote healthy holiday eating. Make healthy substitutions when making your holiday favorites.
Eat well early.
Start with a healthy breakfast and maintain your good habits throughout the day. Carry around some raw almonds or keep apples and bananas on hand during the day for light snacking. By party time you won't be starving and binge out on the fatty treats.
Fill up and sit down.
Step away from the buffet, my friend. Standing around the food is a surefire way for you to lose track of what you're eating. Grab a plate of food and sit far away from the display to socialize.
Skip the creamy dip.
The majority of dips you find at holiday parties - while undeniably tasty - are made with mayonaise, sour cream, or other full fat dairy products. Avoid those and substitute for their healthy counterparts: plain yogurt, tzatziki, hummus, salsa or guacamole.
Stock up on seafood.
Smoked salmon is a great party choice. Salmon is high in omega-3 fatty acids which are phenomenal for brain functionality (which will certainly help with the craziness of the holidays) Shrimp cocktail is another scrumptious snack. It is very low in fat and calories, and will fill you up. Go easy on the cocktail sauce as most is store-bought with added salt and sodium (or create your own healthy option). If sushi and sashimi are on the menu - feel free to stock up! Just avoid the sodium-filled soy sauce and opt for extra ginger and wasabi.
Get in the spirit with red or clear.
Holiday cocktails are at their peak. Choose a heart-healthy red wine to sip, or opt for a vodka and club soda with citrus fruit. While any cocktail contains sugar, these are the best bang for your spirited buck. Vodka is lower in sugar and club soda is just carbonated water. Adding the citrus is a way to sneak a little vitamin into your booze! Avoid white wines, brown liquors, cream liquores, or anything mixed with a soda. These drinks contain a lot of sugar that will bloat your belly right up!
Pigs in blankets, creamy dips, chicken wings, chicken tenders, cold cuts - these are all items that you can have any time of year. Spend your calories on foods that are truly seasonal treats, like that display of Christmas cookies and cupcakes that only come around once a year.
Pause and Freshen upCarry a pack of sugar-free mint gum around with you at all times. Once you feel like you've filled up, pop a piece in your mouth. The minty freshness will help you avoid going back in for another plate of food or that extra cocktail. Plus, you'll have great breath if you end up under the mistletoe!
Wear a LBD.
When wearing snug clothes, you’re less likely to overeat. Wear your curve-hugging little black dress to the holiday party and hold a drink in your dominant hand, so you’ll be less inclined to grab snacks, obesity expert Cathy Nonas, a registered dietician, told WebMD.
Watch the eggnog.
Alcoholic drinks are packed with calories, especially festive favorites like eggnog, which is nearly identical to ice cream. But that doesn’t mean you have to avoid them all together. You can cut your alcohol calories in half by alternating water or seltzer between alcoholic beverages, according to David Katz, a medical doctor and author of “The Flavor Point Diet.” Katz recommends saving alcoholic beverages for the end of a meal, since alcohol can make you more likely to overindulge, according to WebMD.
Remember your veggies.
The crudité platter at the holiday party is your best friend, sans the creamy dip. Celebrity nutritionists suggest stocking up on watery vegetables and fruits like celery, lettuce, cucumbers, watermelon, oranges and grapes to banish bloat. Don't forget to add colorful produce to your main plate too, but avoid gas-producing veggies like cauliflower and broccoli during the holidays. Pile your plate high with asparagus and green beans a few days before a "be-seen" event. "They're high in filling fiber, but less likely to expand in your stomach," Keller told CNN.
That’s right. Eat the tasty holiday treats you’ve been waiting for all year, but be mindful of your portion sizes. Stick to one serving per indulgence, like one-half cup of eggnog or two medium-sized ginger snap cookies. Enjoy!
Have a green day.
Why don't you try one or two green days during the next few weeks? Everything you put in your mouth should be green: kale, greens, spinach, broccoli, avocados, green apples, green juices, etc. Eating green offers a hefty source of antioxidants and phytonutrients, boosts your immune system and is low in calories. Give your body a break from rich holiday foods and make sure to drink plenty of water.
Take a silence break.
Try this before an evening out or even sneak out during the party for 5 or 10 mins to clear your head, re-group and reflect on how grateful you are for your co-workers, friends and family.
Try a vegetarian feast.
Planning an office party or get together with friends and family? Get pro-active and choose a vegetarian restaurant or caterer instead of settling for the pigs-in-a-blanket route. It's not complicated to have a healthy and tasty party.
Dance the night away.
Don't sit on the sidelines; get out on the dance floor and bust a move. You'll burn calories (up to 250 in 30 minutes), flush the booze and food through your system and release some serious feel-good endorphins.
Walk it off.
Back in the day, it was customary to go for a nice long stroll after an evening meal. After a heavy meal, get the whole gang up and out for some fresh air and exercise. You'll feel better, get the digestive juices flowing and help burn off those mashed potatoes.
If you’re frustrated with how difficult it is to go to constantly food centric activities take matters into your own hands and be the hostess that keeps healthy living in mind when planning your party . Living by example is sometimes the best way to start positive change in your family or circle of friends
Use small plates
Your guests can’t load up with piles of food if it’s not physically possible, says dietitian Amy Jamieson-Petonic, president of Nutrition Today with Amy J. Giving a dinner party? Set out 8-inch plates. “The holidays are a great time to use that vintage china, since plates used to be much smaller!” Jamieson-Petonic says.
Create a food-free zone.
Serve food in one room only, leaving the rest of your home free for socializing.
If guests take a plate and relocate to another area, they’re apt to get chatty and forget about refilling their plate.
Shrink the desserts.
A holiday party just isn’t right without tempting sweets. So don’t skip them, Thayer says. Just offer very small portions. That way, your guests can taste a little bit of everything.
Consider making many treats fruit-based. “Don’t underestimate fruit’s place at the dessert table,” she says. “Dishes like an apple baked with lots of cinnamon can look great and taste amazing.”
Keep ’em movin’.
Give your guests something to do, Thayer says. It’s better for circulation, digestion, and calorie-burning than standing or sitting around. Start a game of charades or a scavenger hunt. Clear an area for dancing, or dust off that foosball or pool table. If it's warm outside, offer bocce ball or horseshoes. Organize guests into teams and stage a competition -- anything to keep people off the sofa. Icebreakers can also make your parties better because you’ll encourage people to mingle and increase the likelihood of your guests having a great time.