With cookie platters, buffet spreads and plenty of parties, it’s easy to go overboard with holiday eating. But not to worry - here are five simple tips to help you indulge in your holiday favorites while still sparing your waistline.
Use smaller plates
Members of the clean plate club can save calories by using smaller plates. In a bit of an optical illusion, the same amount of food looks larger on a smaller plate than it does on a larger plate. In fact, research from Cornell University shows switching from a 12 inch to a 10 inch plate can help you eat 20-25% fewer calories. This makes your plate one of your biggest portion control allies during the holiday season.
Another idea is to use your plate as a map. Fill half with veggies, one quarter with starches and the final quarter with protein. This will not only help with portion sizing, but also force you to fill a greater percentage of your plate with low calorie, nutritionally dense produce. Plus, still leave room for a few treats like stuffing, mashed potatoes and honey baked ham.
Alternate each holiday beverages with a glass of water
Office parties, neighborhood gatherings and holiday dinners often mean plenty of festive drinks to go around. Whether your holiday beverage of choice is a mug of eggnog, a glass of wine or a tumbler of hot buttered rum, alternate a glass of water between each libation. It’s easy to underestimate how quickly calories from drinks can add up in an evening, and water will slow your consumption plus keep you hydrated.
Another tip, when warming yourself with a peppermint mocha or gingerbread latte, try switching to a skim milk. You’ll save calories and still enjoy indulging in the festive treat.
Have something healthy to eat before hitting holiday parties
You might be inclined to “save up” your daily calories for a big dinner or holiday party, but it’s actually best to eat a healthy meal or snack before you go. Skipping meals throughout the day can wreak havoc on your metabolism, and can lead to overeating later. Before walking out the door grab a quick bite with lean protein, fiber, complex carbohydrates and healthy fat. You’ll arrive at your party feeling satiated and less likely to ravage the hors d’oeuvres.
Enjoying mini portions of your holiday favorites allows you to treat yourself without breaking your calorie budget. Luckily, most parties offer small size versions of holiday favorites. So feel free to enjoy a one-bite meatball and mini cheesecake, just try to limit the number you eat.
Another tip, when faced with towers of tempting treats and chocolate candies, satisfy your sweet tooth with only in those things you really love. It’s especially helpful to pick seasonal favorites that you can’t get year round.
Don’t wait until January 1 to think healthy
It’s tempting to throw caution to the wind and vow to make healthier choices come January 1, but resist the urge. Instead, try keeping splurges to a minimum and aim to stay committed to your workouts even if you only have 10 minutes to walk around the block. Not only will this help you relieve stress during the holidays, but keeping healthy habits will also make your job easier when it comes time for New Year’s resolutions.
To navigate some of the tricky festive eating challenges, try these five tips to add a little moderation to your celebration. After all, the holidays are a time for good tidings and cheer, so go ahead and enjoy your favorite treats.