Top Holiday Diet Tips of All Time Web MD & NutritionWorks
Holidays bring family and friends together to celebrate traditions and spread good cheer. They also bring lots of opportunities for socializing, eating, and drinking. Even the most disciplined people struggle with temptation during the holiday season. To navigate the party landmines with your healthy diet intact, you need a strategy. Experts agree: Having a plan in place will help you handle night after night of eating and drinking. "Think of your appetite as an expense account, and figure out how much you want to spend on drinks, appetizers, entrees, and dessert," advises Michelle May, MD, author of Am I Hungry? What to Do When Diets Don't Work. She suggests giving yourself permission to enjoy your favorite foods -- in sensible portions. To help you survive the seasonal parties without packing on the pounds, here are some top holiday diet tips:
1. Trim back the trimmings. Go all out and deck the halls with boughs of holly, glitter, and lights, but when it comes to holiday food, accessorize with care. To shave calories, go easy when adding nuts, cheese, cream sauces, gravy, butter, and whipped cream -- additions that don't add much to the meal, but can add plenty to your waistline. Trim calories wherever you can so you leave the party feeling satisfied, but not stuffed.
2. Wear snug clothes and keep one hand busy. When you wear snug-fitting attire, chances are you'll be too busy holding in your stomach to overeat. While you stand around looking posh in your holiday finery, hold a drink in your dominant hand so it won't be so easy to grab food.
3. Chew gum. When you don't want to eat, pop a piece of sugarless gum into your mouth. This works well when you're cooking or when you're trying not to dive into the buffet.
4. Be a food snob. If you don't love it, don't eat it. Scan the buffet for foods you truly treasure and skip the everyday dishes that are available all year long. And don't think it's your responsibility to sample everything on the buffet. Go ahead and indulge in your personal holiday favorites, then find a seat and, slowly and mindfully, savor every mouthful.
5. Feeling stressed about what’s on the menu? Bring your own guilt free food options to the party. With so many holiday gatherings on many of our schedules, it’s easy to feel stressed about the calories and unhealthy food we are consuming. Having a healthier option will leave you feeling more in control over your choices.
6. No skipping meals. Always eat normally on the day of a party. People who skip meals to save up calories tend to overeat everything in sight once they get there. Eating sensibly throughout the day will take the edge off the appetite and empower a bit of restraint. Start with a nourishing breakfast, have a light lunch, then a small snack or salad shortly before the event.
7. Check it out. First things first. When you arrive at the party, grab a sparkling water with a twist, and wait at least 30 minutes before eating. This will give you time to relax, get comfortable in your surroundings, and survey your food choices on the buffet before diving in. A buffet is an invitation to eat all you can, and unless you carefully scrutinize it and make wise choices, you're likely to overeat.
8. Add fun and games. Cynthia Sass, MPH, MA, RD, co-author of Your Diet Is Driving Me Crazy, proposes taking the focus off food and getting family and friends more active during holiday parties. Think horseshoes, badminton, sledding, ice skating, or building snowmen. Indoors, try a spirited game of charades, or rent an instructional dance video followed by a dance-off or even Zumba on the Wi. The best parties include dancing, so why not make dancing after eating a new holiday tradition for a great form of fun and recreation?
9. Alternate alcohol with nonalcoholic beverages. Alcoholic drinks are loaded with calories -- especially holiday favorites like eggnog, juice based drinks and heavy liquors. You can cut your alcohol calories in half by alternating water or seltzer between alcoholic beverages.
10. Skip the appetizers. Eschew the appetizers rather than chewing on them. If you need a little nibble before the meal, go for the veggies, fruit, salsa, or a small handful of nuts.
11. Limit the variety. THE MORE YOU PUT ON YOUR PLATE, THE MORE YOU WILL EAT! Put only two items on your plate when you go to the food table. Return as many times as you like, but only take two items each time. Variety stimulates appetite, and if you limit your choices to just a few items and stick with these, it will be easier to control than eating a little bit of 20 different dishes.
12. Stay active! Don't sit on the couch like a slug all day, chomping on chocolate Santas. Take a walk. If there's snow, take some kids (young relatives, friends' kids, your own kids) out sledding. Find ways to burn additional calories to make up for the extra chewing you're probably doing. During the season getting in a little exercise is better than none. Check out FIT 2 THE CORE’s30 min express workouts on Tues, Thurs, & Sat.
13. Holiday shopping. Mall-crawling can be SO exhausting -- all the people and the lights and the sales and the shoving. Eventually, you're going to get worn out and need to eat. Don't dive into a pile of food court fried rice or some greasy burger. Most malls have a Subway or some kind of sandwich shop. Stick with lean proteins and greens. And go easy on the dressing. Bringing a Kind or Lara Bar for snacking will also from getting famished and over hungry.
14. Leftovers?! They're a joy and a burden, especially if the big meal was at your place. Try to hand off the heavier foods to your guests before they leave. (Holiday Tip! Stock up on those cheap disposable containers!) And freeze whatever you have too much of instead of trying to swallow it all before it goes bad.