Top Ten Healthy Holiday Tips
For Healthy Holiday Parties and Family Celebrations
- Eat before you go to a party, especially foods high in protein and healthy fats. Your blood sugar will be more stable so you won’t eat as much.
- Alcohol is loaded with calories. Try substituting with sparkling water or club soda (an added benefit is feeling more full with water so you won’t eat as much). The best advice is choosing non-alcoholic, low calorie beverages such as a virgin bloody Mary, fruit flavored tea, or flavored water (without sugar or sugar substitutes added). If you do consume alcohol, remember that alcohol may inhibit your ability to make smart food choices. Sip your drinks slowly. For each alcoholic beverage, have 8 oz. sparkling water or club soda in between. Add a small amount of lemon, lime, or other fruit juice to your water for added flavor.
- Don’t make a meal out of appetizers. Sample one or two, then wait for the main course. If fresh vegetables are served as appetizers, fill up on low carbohydrate, low calorie tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, artichoke hearts, celery, and zucchini. At a buffet, graze to take a taste of enticing items, but spend most of your time with the raw vegetables and heart healthy guacamole and humus dips. Socialize away from the food table so you won’t be tempted to continue eating while talking.
- If you know you’ll want to have a rich dessert (instead of fruit), keep the fat and carbohydrate calories low the rest of the day to compensate. Also, forego second helpings of the dinner to save “calorie” room for dessert. Encourage family and friends to take a brisk walk between dinner and dessert. You’ll be surprised by how much less you’ll crave!
- Watch out for raw foods (raw fish, steak tartar and eggnog made with raw eggs) or foods left out too long at room temperature. They could harbor harmful pathogens such as salmonella, shigella, listeria, or e coli.
- Eat your meal slowly so that you’ll feel full with less food. It typically takes your stomach about 20 minutes to let your brain know that you are full. Try to avoid or limit foods high in saturated fat like heavy gravies. These are typically very high in calories. For example: 8 oz. eggnog = 340 calories, 1 slice pie with whipping cream = 520 calories; 1 cup standard poultry stuffing = 500 calories.
- Exercise more to burn more calories during the holidays. Cycling, fast-walking, and cross-country skiing are great ideas. Even shoveling the snow off of your driveway and sidewalk counts.
- Offer to bring your favorite healthy recipe to the party and spend most of your time eating it. Let your host keep the leftovers from your dish. If you’re hosting the meal or party, send leftovers home with your guests. It’s a friendly gesture and saves your from temptation!
- If you have food sensitivities or allergies, call your host before the party to determine what foods would be safe. There is nothing worse than having an allergic reaction or digestive distress when you are trying to have fun.
- Don’t begin a diet during the holidays or become obsessive about avoiding tempting holiday fare. If you restrict yourself too much, you’ll either be depressed or “pig out” later. Remember that the average adult gains 6 lbs. from Thanksgiving Day through New Year’s Day. If you can even maintain your weight during the holidays, you’ll be one step ahead when it is time to make your New Year’s resolutions.