By: Kristen Castillo
During the holiday season, food temptation is everywhere! From sweet drinks and rich appetizers to bountiful meals and delicious desserts, it’s tough to eat healthy and in proper portions.
That’s why you need a game plan to help you survive the November through January season of abundance. Read on for Healthy Dining’s 20 diet-friendly holiday tips.
- Make small, but smart substitutions. Small changes can save calories and fat without otherwise impacting your meal. So skip that extra slice of cheese on your sandwich and choose vegetable soup over a heavy cream soup, like clam chowder.
- Plan ahead. Pre-plan what’s for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The more you strategize your meals ahead of time, the greater the likelihood that you’ll stick to those set meals and won’t overindulge in the moment.
- Don’t drink your calories. Sure, that tall latte with extra whip is tasty, but is it really worth 400 calories? Eating your calories rather than drinking them is more satisfying.
- Make a distinctive end to a meal. Once your meal is over, do something to tell your body and your mind you’re done eating. For example, brush your teeth or suck on a mint.
- Plan a treat. While it’s not healthy to eat sweets all the time, don’t deprive yourself. Instead, plan a treat you’ll look forward to, such as a once a week dessert. Keep the treat small but satisfying.
- Drink green tea. Studies show that green tea may help prevent weight gain. The tea has catechins, which may help to boost metabolism and burn fat.
- Eat a light snack/meal before going to a holiday party. A full social calendar doesn’t have to mean a full belly! Eat a small bite – a bit of mozzarella cheese and lean ham or an apple with peanut butter – before the party, so you don’t overeat heavy appetizers.
- Keep a food journal. Tracking your food intake can help you stick to a healthy regime. Be honest in your food log, too. If you indulge, write it down!
- Prep healthy snacks in advance. When a craving hits, avoid the vending machine and eat a healthy snack instead. Stash a handful of nuts or a piece of fruit in your bag, car or desk drawer.
- Know your portions. A bite here and a bit there seem harmless, but the extra calories add up! Make sure you’re eating appropriate portions, especially during the holidays. For example, a serving size of a medium potato is the size of a computer mouse, while a three-ounce serving of meat is the size of a bar of soap or a deck of cards.
- Share a dessert. Want a piece of pie? Ask a friend or family member to split it with you. Studies show that a few bites is all it takes to satisfy a sweet craving!
- Eat Mindfully. Mindless eating is a quick path to extra calories. Instead, sit down during your meals and snacks so you’ll enjoy the food and the dining experience.
- Serve healthy foods at holiday gatherings. Who says you have to make cookies and pie for dessert? Prepare a fruit platter instead. That healthy dessert will be a welcome treat – you can even go back for seconds!
- Keep a schedule. Know your party and activity schedule, and make sure you’re consistently eating healthy, especially between holiday get-togethers.
- Eat a salad. Start your meal with a fit salad instead of a fattening appetizer. Be sure to avoid fattening toppings like creamy dressings, glazed nuts and croutons.
- Take a nap. You’re more likely to overeat if you’re tired. While the holidays are busy, and if you let yourself get overtired, you’re more likely to overindulge!
- Take a post-meal walk. Work off some of your holiday meals with a brisk walk.
- Stay hydrated. Don’t confuse hunger with thirst. Drink water throughout the day to keep thirst at bay.
- Don’t rush. Take your time to munch on food and drinks, especially at holiday gatherings. Eating slowly can help you notice how much you’re really consuming. You’ll know when you’re getting full, so you might not overeat, too.
- Veg Out! Fill your plate with fruits and veggies. Use minimal or no dips or toppings, which can quickly add lots of calories to your meal.