Mmmmm…. Holidays. Some people think of presents, parties, the spirit of the season… but there’s pretty much only one think I think about: food.
Holiday food is some of the richest, fattiest and most delicious food out there, and while I absolutely love it, gorging myself at holiday parties is something I tend to regret sooner or later.
Thankfully, the nutritionists at MARTIN’S have been anticipating calorie season with some tips on how to navigate (and still enjoy) all that holiday party food:
- If you go to a party on an empty stomach you will most likely end up eating more than you actually need or even really want. Instead plan ahead. If you have a party that night, don’t skip meals in anticipation. Choose a high protein breakfast and a snack of lean protein, fruits and vegetables beforehand. Also stay hydrated by drinking 8 to 16 ounces of water.
- Move your body. Find an activity your family loves and do it before your big meal. Or schedule in an extra half hour of exercise the morning of a party.
- Allow yourself small portions or tastes of your favorite dishes. Choose a small cocktail size plate for appetizers and limit yourself to one plate.
- No small plate? Try using a napkin. You will only be able to fit enough food into the palm of your hand, ideal when you hit the sweets table.
- Attending a cocktail party? Try to go for fruit and vegetable trays or lean meat options such as chicken skewers. Watch for dips, sauces and anything fried, crunchy or crispy.
- For dinner events, follow the ChooseMyPlate.gov guidelines. Make half your plate fruit and vegetables. One quarter of your plate can be a scoop of a starch such as mashed potatoes, rice or sweet potatoes. The rest of your plate should be your lean protein (roast turkey, filet mignon, baked ham, etc.)
- Contribute to the food table. This way you can ensure that there is an item or two you can eat without guilt. Make a salad, bring fresh cut fruit, or a “lightened up” version of your favorite holiday side dish or appetizer.
- Liquid calories can add up quickly. Sugary mixers can double your cocktail calories. Stick with wine and light beers, which are about 100 to 125 calories per glass. Follow each alcoholic beverage you have with a glass of water to stay hydrated.
- Slow down at the buffet. It takes your brain about 20 minutes to recognize fullness.
- Move your socializing away from the buffet or sweets table. Out of sight, out of mind.
- Satisfy your sweet tooth with the three bite dessert rule. Choose a small piece, take three bites and savor each bite.
- Make a plan for the day after a big party of meal so you can get back on track quickly.
And if you’re the one in the kitchen, there are a number of simple swaps you can use in preparing your holiday favorites.
- Use low fat dairy products.
- Instead of oil use applesauce or ground flax.
- Try ground turkey and turkey bacon.
- Replace an egg with 1 Tablespoon ground flaxseed and 3 Tablespoons water in your baking dishes.
- Use spices or herbs instead of salt to flavor food.
- Add vegetables whenever you can. Try pureed butternut squash in mac and cheese and cauliflower in mashed potatoes.
For more healthy tips visit MARTIN’S Healthy Ideas online or stop into your local MARTIN’S to pick up the free holiday edition of Healthy Ideas Magazine.