Don’t diet during the holidays. Being “on a diet” usually makes you feel like you’re depriving yourself and you end up focusing on what you can’t have instead of what you can. Instead, follow these tips in our Guide to Healthy Holiday Eating to make your taste buds happy (while leaving excess calories behind):
1. Make Good Food Choices
Sometimes, eating healthy during the holidays means swapping poor food choices with better options:
Replace this: Anything fried, candy, chips and dip
With this: Chilled shrimp, nuts and fruit and veggie platters with a hummus dip
Replace this: Dark meat turkey and creamy gravy
With this: White meat turkey breast without the skin, with a low-sodium chicken broth on top
Replace this: Mashed potatoes
With this: Sweet potatoes, with some cinnamon and brown sugar instead of butter
Replace this: Cream pies
With this: Pumpkin pie, since pumpkin offers great nutrients (without the crust and whipped topping)
Replace this: Soda and deluxe coffee drinks
With this: WATER! Use your calories on tasty food, not sugary drinks
2. Use Small Plates
It’s one of the tricks that many dieticians and weight-loss gurus will implement in their plans — because it actually works! If you’re hosting a party, set out smaller plates for your guests (and nix the regular-size dinner plates). And if you are at a gathering, choose the smallest plate available — even if you use a salad plate as your main dish.
3. Keep Portions Small
Really, barring any health or dietary restrictions, you can eat anything you want... in moderation. Love the calorie-ridden buttery goodness of Aunt Martha’s homemade mashed potatoes and gravy? Simply give yourself a small scoop. You’ll get the taste that you love without overindulging (which, admittedly, is super easy to do when there’s so much good food around!).
4. Focus on family and friends — not food
Remember the reason for the gathering — social time! At holiday gatherings or parties, try to focus on socializing with friends and family. Hang out in the living room, not the kitchen. When it’s time to eat, sit down at a table and savor the treats instead of mindlessly munching at the buffet.
The holidays are a time to mix and mingle. The food should be secondary.
5. Don’t Come Hungry; Savor The Treats You Eat
A tried and true diet trick is to never arrive at a food-based function hungry. Before heading out to the party, have a healthy snack (an apple with cheese or peanut butter, a salad with protein, veggies and Greek yogurt dip, a green smoothie). You won’t be tempted to run straight for the cookie tray and you will be able to make healthy food choices (with a treat or two thrown in).
Don’t skip meals either: We know it’s tempting on Thanksgiving to “save room” for the big dinner. However, that’s a sure-fire way to overindulge. And when you are munching on that cheesy crab dip or fudge, eat it slowly. Savor the taste. It sounds simple, but you might just find that a single piece satisfies.
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