Family dinners and holiday parties are just around the corner. If you don’t have a plan for balancing food choices with enjoying the festivities, you may find yourself really frustrated. Try these 9 tips for making healthy holiday choices and you may find yourself having a Happy New Year.
1. Don’t allow yourself to get hungry, especially before going to a gathering where food will be available.
2. Portion control is key.
- Hunger often leads to poor food choices and overeating.
- Eat a healthy snack before going to a party (fruits, veggies, yogurt, etc.)
- Don’t skip meals on holidays; eat at least three meals, as you would on a regular day.
- Take a healthy appetizer and/or dessert to the party to ensure you have at least one good option to choose.
3. Step away from the food!
- Use a smaller plate so you don’t take too much food. Keep portions small. A taste often satisfies a craving.
- Survey your options before filling your plate. That way you can enjoy your favorites without wasting calories on things you don’t care about.
- Try to limit yourself to one trip through the food buffet.
- If you would like more to satisfy cravings, make a doggy bag and take a portion home.
4. Avoid “clean your plate syndrome.”
- It sounds simple, but don’t stand close to the food table. It can easily lead to mindless snacking.
- Focus on the conversation rather than the food.
- Wait 10 minutes after eating before going back for seconds. You may realize you’re not as hungry as you initially thought.
- Leaving some food on your plate will signal that you aren’t done and others will be less likely to ask if you want seconds.
- To avoid grazing or mindless eating, once you fill your plate, sit down and eat. Discard the plate when you are done, and chew gum or a small mint to help prevent you from eating more.
. Watch your beverages. Limit alcoholic and sugary beverages.
- The calories you drink add up quickly. Instead of increasing your calorie intake with sugary drinks, opt for water, giving you more options for food choices.
- Alcoholic beverages may also stimulate your appetite. If drinking, be sure to make appropriate food choices.
. Write it down.
7. Opt for substitutes in the kitchen.
- Keep a journal (or use a fitness app) to track what you eat.
- People who keep a food journal are more successful at weight loss than those who do not.
8. What to do with the leftovers.
- Plan recipes in advance and look for healthy substitutes before going to the store for ingredients.
- Even recipes that are not low fat or low sugar can be altered to be healthier.
- A lot of creamy desserts can be made with healthier ingredients: Greek Yogurt, rather than sour cream or mayonnaise is always a great option.
- Mayo Clinic has a great list of healthy recipe substitutions. Check it out here.
9. Stay active during the holidays.
- If you’re hosting the party, be sure to send leftovers home with guests so you are not tempted to splurge on them later.
- If you are given food tins or baskets, take them to work or to the neighbors. You can also freeze some for a later date. Don’t leave them sitting out at home to tempt you.
- Be deliberate about finding time to exercise.
- Look for simple ways to be active, like parking far away from the store and walking, using the stairs instead of the elevator, or taking short walks around the neighborhood.
- Being active helps reduce stress levels during the holidays. Stress often leads to high blood pressure, heartburn, digestive problems, increased sensitivity to pain, tense muscles leading to headaches, neck aches and back pain, and “emotional eating.” Even a small amount of exercise reduces holiday stress and keeps you feeling healthy and energized.
Follow these simple tips for a healthy and happy holiday season!