10 Healthy Holiday Eating Tips

10 Healthy Holiday Eating Tips

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The holidays are coming and for many, that can mean challenging situations that pose great risk on even the best healthy eating plan. On average, Americans gain about a pound at holiday time which may not seem like a lot but we usually don’t lose this pound. Long term, after 10 years, you’ve put on signifcant extra weight. Short term, all the sguar, calories, sodium and fatthat you’ve consumed during the holidays may make for an extra wrinkle and dull skin for the New Year.You can survive the holidays, though, with a few simple tactics: 1.    Nibble at home beforehand. Enjoying a small snack of nuts, string cheese and a few whole grain crackers will mean you’re arriving at the party satisfied already, not starving.  The holiday buffet has so many food and drink options that if you go in hungry, you’re doomed.2.    Be the last in line. Never underestimate the visual power of food and how it effects appetite. The buffet or appetizer table looks great when you’re the lucky first man to it. Once a large amount of people have gone through, the food loses its luster. Imagine the potatoes au gratin with the crusty topping—it’s usually gone by the time you get to it if you’re last in line.3.    Drink all night — with a wine spritzer. Having too much alcohol is a sure fire way to lose control on the dance floor and at the buffet table (and possibly under the mistletoe!). Instead, mix two ounces of wine with club soda, a little cranberry juice and lime juice for a wine spritzer. You’ll be able to draw out your drinks throughout the night without getting out of control. Remember—many holiday drinks are loaded with calories that add up quickly:Egg Nog = 350 calories BEFORE the alcohol for 1 cupVodka on the rocks (1.5 oz) = 96 caloriesMartini (4 oz) = 160 caloriesWine (5 oz) = 100 calories 4.    Stop eating when you’re full.  Sometimes we overeat because we still feel hungry, but then afterwards we feel uncomfortably stuffed. Get attuned with how your body feels when it’s “full” so you know when to stop. This might mean training yourself to eat more slowly than you’re used to so you can listen to your body’s cues.5.   Don’t build food towers. Use a salad plate (ask for one if you don’t see one) and make it a rule not to stack foods on top of each other. This rule will help you in controlling your portions. Also—forget about the second trip up. One trip, one plate, no tower.MORE: How You’re Tricked Into Eating Junk Food6.    Be a great guest. Helping the host out with dishes or serving drinks allows you be involved with everyone but does not allow you to sit around and eat. Your host will think you’re great and you’ll stay away from the crescent roll pastry Brie wheel. Everyone wins. 7.    Focus on friends and conversation, not on the food. That’s what parties during the holidays are about anyway right? Watch out for dips and sauces, they add the most calories and fat to most buffet tables and it’s easy to be mid-conversation and dip a carrot into 100 worthless calories of ranch dressing. Stick with whole foods and make a goal to eat “closer to the farm” by avoid highly processed foods. Also, graciously decline to take home leftovers. 8.    Gum. Chew it after you’ve had an appropriate serving of food. It will help you to avoid “picking” at the table.9.    Do the napkin test. Not sure about the nutrition content of that stuffed mushroom? If it would leave an oil mark on a napkin, leave it on the table.10.   Be mindful. Dining in a group causes the average person to eat about 44% more calories than he or she normally would eating alone. Distractions during eating time usually add up to MORE eating. Keep a mental checklist of how much you’re consuming and if you feel yourself accepting every passed appetizer, it’s your eyes telling you that you need more food, not your brain. Make a conscious effort to balance your plate with plenty of fruits and veggies—keep your plate bright and avoid dull-colored foods, they tend to be the worst ones for you (think bacon wrapped scallops, crab Rangoon, crab cakes, etc).  Take a second to look at every bite before you eat it — maybe even take a deep breath to slow yourself down at the buffet table.Related Articles: 12 Sneaky Ways to Burn Calories Over the HolidaysHow to Navigate a Holiday Party Without Drinking