Food tends to be the foundation of celebration during the holiday season. How can we possibly munch on treats and still maintain the way we look and feel while staying healthy? No one should have to deprive themselves, but having a little self restraint during the holiday season may help you stay ahead of the game. Here’s your guide on how to pilot the party scene.
Before the Party: Begin each day with a breakfast rich in protein and fiber and be mindful of your caloric intake throughout the rest of the day. Before the party, snack on appetite-satisfying proteins like almonds, grilled chicken and string cheese. Filling up before you step foot in the door will prevent overindulging once you’re inside.
Strategize and plan exactly what you will eat and drink beforehand. Limit high-fat foods, cream soups, dressings, red meats and baked goods.
At the party, taste–do not devour. Nosh on low-calorie fruit, veggies, hummus, whole grain crackers and nuts.
Hors D’oeuvres are not meals! Nourish your body with the proper combination of lean protein, high-fiber carbohydrate and omega-3 fats. Don’t forget to include two servings of fruits and vegetables during the evening. Fill half your plate with vegetables, one quarter with lean meat and the rest with a high fiber starch. Chew slowly, sip slowly, and enjoy the music, laughter and experiences. Most importantly: recognize when you are full.
Don’t feel as though you have to say “yes” to everyone that offers you food and drink. If you are not hungry, then simply say so. Do not let yourself be coaxed into eating or drinking something that you really don’t want to.
Mingle. Share your plate of food. If you stand near the snack table all night you may mindlessly end up eating more that you would like. If you take to much food, offer these extras to the family and friends around you. Engaging in the characteristics of food may open up a whole new world of conversation.
Beverages can hold added calories, always survey your options. Drink water or flavored water (without artificial sweeteners added), spritzers, all natural juices, herbal teas, decaf coffee and warm apple cider. Enjoy the friends, family members, conversations and memories around you.
When choosing alcohol, remember that it can dehydrate your body. Instead of beer, cider, egg nog, Bailey’s, or Kahlua, try lower calorie dry wines, wine spritzer’s, virgin Bloody Mary’s, or a splash of spirits with tonic or seltzer.
Planning Your Own Holiday Party?
- Meats: choose lean cuts, white meat over dark, breast meat rather than the drumstick. Trim visible fat and remove skin from poultry.
- Choose omega-3 rich fish over other meats. Fish such as salmon, sole, halibut, tilapia and flounder have heart healthy and skin-hydrating omega-3 fats.
- Prepare meats in ways that reduce the fat content, like broiling or baking. Drain the excess fat off of meats after cooking. Cook meats on a rack so fat can drip away. Cool soups, gravies and stews before serving. Remove the fat that has collected at the top. When preparing meats, baste with low-fat broth instead of the drippings from the pan.
- Dairy: choose low-fat dairy over full-fat versions.
- Vegetables: add two steamed or raw vegetables to every meal and never coat them with creamy sauces or butter. Flavor them with anti-inflammatory herbs such as, turmeric, garlic, ginger, oregano, thyme and rosemary. The brighter the color, the better. Fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants, minerals, vitamins and fiber. Antioxidants can be protective agents against heart disease and cancer.
- Starch: choose low-glycemic index, whole-grain and high-fiber options. Sweet potatoes over white or red, brown rice over white, whole grain couscous, millet, buckwheat and sprouted grain breads.
- Stuffing: replace half of the meat with dried fruits and nuts. Make gravy from a low-fat broth rather than the meat drippings to reduce the calorie and fat content.
- Add unsweetened applesauce, low-fat yogurt or prune puree as sweeteners to some recipes.
- Cut back on sugar by adding in more cinnamon or nutmeg. Instead of using all white flour, replace half with whole wheat versions.
- Make your desserts fruit dominant.
Author: Chrissy Wellington, M.S., C.N.S, L.D.N., C.P.T.