With the holidays in tow, the highlight for many during this season is gathering with family and friends and enjoying your favorite holiday treats. Cookies, candied yams, and pies can often be found at every turn when attending holiday festivities. Here are some tips that will help you to enjoy your holiday to the fullest while not increasing your waistline.
1. Don't Skip Meals
Eat a light, healthy meal a few hours before any holiday event. We often have the mentality of "saving" our calories so we can splurge on that special meal, but it can often backfire. If you go most of the day without eating, you will be more likely to overeat and choose unhealthy options. A great filling meal that will hold you over until your event should include both protein and fiber for extra staying power.
2. Choose Wisely
When you first arrive at a holiday event that provides food, peruse your options first before digging in. If you plan to indulge, choose items that are only prepared on these special occasions but be sure to limit the portion. Also, don't skimp on the fruits and vegetables--these will help you feel full and keep you from overeating the less healthy options.
3. Pay Attention
It is easy to overeat at holiday gatherings since there is usually a variety of foods. Eat slowly and listen to your hunger cues. If you are truly not hungry, avoid second helpings.
4. Limit Liquid Calories
To help keep your liquid calories in check, alternate water and an alcoholic or sweetened beverage. You will be sure to stay hydrated and not go overboard on the calories. If you still want to have one or two cocktails, choose drinks that you can sip slowly such as a fine wine or bourbon. If you are looking for a mixed drink, vodka, lime, and seltzer water is another great low-calorie option.
5. Out of Sight, Out of Mind
Whether it is leftover holiday cookies or a cheesy casserole brought over by your aunt, keep in mind the saying "out of sight, out of mind." If these items are accessible to you, it makes you more likely to choose them. Limiting treats and unhealthy leftovers at home is a great way to maintain your weight during the holidays.
6. Come Prepared
When trying to eat healthy around the holidays, it can be difficult to avoid the many temptations. If you are attending a potluck, take a low calorie dish so that you have at least one healthy choice. Good options include a vegetable platter, fruit platter, hummus, black bean dip, or air-popped popcorn with a sprinkle of your favorite seasoning.
7. Stay Active
With cooler temperatures outside, it might be more difficult to get outside and be active. Try to incorporate time with family and friends by looking into an activity you can all enjoy. Holiday-themed races over the season from the Turkey Trot to Santa Run are a big hit among many. Think this might be out of your comfort zone? Many of these races offer a 5K distance. This can be a fun event not focused around food that allows you to spend time with those you love.
Kristen Bourque, RD, LD has been writing health-related articles since 2000. Her nutrition articles and recipes have been featured in "Today's Dietitian" as well as the Canadian magazine "Glow". Kristen combines her love of nutrition with cooking on her personal blog, Swanky Dietitian.