The holidays… a joyful time of parties and treats that often result in increased pant sizes and lofty New Year resolutions. To stay off the emotional roller coaster of self-esteem and excessive treadmilling, here is an article with a few tips to stay healthy and still enjoy the festive season. I inserted personal ideas or recipe links after certain tips to help you implement easier.
8 WAYS TO ENJOY HOLIDAY PARTIES WITHOUT OVERINDULGING
Family get-togethers and other seasonal celebrations often result in eating too much holiday food. Put a plan in place that lets you enjoy the holidays and prevent overeating.
Are you worried about eating too much over the holidays? If so, your concern is valid — studies show that the average American adult may gain almost two pounds a year, with the biggest part of that weight gain happening between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.
In fact, eating too much during the holidays is one reason why many Americans are now considered to be overweight or obese. But you don’t need to give up enjoying holiday foods entirely — you simply need to have a plan to prevent eating too much.
Plan Ahead to Prevent Overeating
Having a plan before you get to a holiday event can help you control what and how much you’re going to eat, says Kari Kooi, MS, RD, LD, a clinical dietitian specialist at the Methodist Hospital in Houston.
Here are four steps you can take to put a healthy holiday eating plan in place:
- Don’t face holiday eating on an empty stomach. “Have a little satisfying protein like low-fat Greek yogurt or a handful of almonds before heading to a holiday event,” Kooi says. “Arriving hungry will quickly dissolve your ability to resist overeating high-calorie holiday food.”
- Bring your host a healthy holiday dish. If you’re asked to prepare a dish for a holiday gathering (or even if you’re not), whip up a health-conscious choice that you can fill up on. Then you can be sure that there’s at least one healthy option on the table.
- Arrive with the right holiday attitude. “Make holiday events more about spending time with family and friends and less about the food,” says Lanah J. Brennan, RD, CDE, a nutritionist in Lafayette, La. But for some people, holiday events with family members can stir up lots of emotions. If this happens to you, take time to calm yourself before seeking comfort in holiday foods, Brennan suggests.
- Include setting limits on alcohol. Alcohol can increase your appetite and decrease your willpower, and that holiday cocktail is probably loaded with empty calories. “Those liquid calories don’t curb your appetite as much as calories from solid food do. Stick to lighter beverages like a glass of wine or a mixed drink with club soda and only one shot of alcohol,” Kooi advises.
Strategies to Prevent Overeating at Holiday Meals
“Once you arrive at the party, take in the food with your eyes first,” Kooi suggests. “Pausing to survey the spread and thinking about which foods are your favorites and which foods just aren’t worth it allows you to splurge selectively.” Tell yourself that you don’t have to try one of everything.
Remember these tips as you fill your holiday plate:
- Load up on fruits and vegetables. They have more fiber and fewer calories so you can fill your plate, eat healthy, and satisfy your appetite.
- Move away from the buffet. “Fill a small plate with no more than two food items at once and then mingle,” Kooi says. “Hang out with the talkers, not the eaters.” Keep something in your hands, like a low-calorie drink, and avoid the temptation to grab appetizers as they pass by.
- Don’t deprive yourself completely. Allow yourself a few special holiday treats, but choose carefully. “Think before you load your plate with holiday food,” Brennan says. “Bypass most of the buffet and save your calories for the foods you really enjoy.”
- Prolong the moment. The longer you linger before indulging in your holiday food choices, the less likely you’ll eat too much. “Don’t head straight to the front of the buffet line,” warns Kooi. “If you’re the first to eat, then you’ll be finished before everyone else and more tempted to go back for seconds.”
Eating too much is one holiday tradition you can do without. But that doesn’t mean you need to give up your favorite holiday foods — you just have to choose them wisely. “Be mindful of what you’re eating,” Brennan says. “Slow down, taste the food, and really enjoy it.”