Make Healthy Choices during the Holidays

As you give thanks, give holiday gifts and ring in the new year, all that celebrating seems to catch up with your waistline. Typically, the average adult who is at a healthy weight gains one pound due to the holidays. This is not necessarily good news, though. According to The New England Journal of Medicine, most people do not lose that pound and continue to put on weight each holiday season, year after year. For those that are already overweight, their weight gain is normally at least five pounds around the holidays. Eeach year we set a New Year’s resolution to shed this gained weight, but how often do we follow-through with those resolutions? Rather than trying to resolve a problem, we have a few tips about healthy eating habits to help you avoid it!

Healthy Hints

What are the best foods to eat at a holiday party? Here’s the caloric content of some holiday favorites:
1 shrimp and cocktail sauce = 8 to 10 calories
1 carrot and dip = 10 calories
1 (small) chocolate Santa = 25 calories
1 stuffed mushroom = 40 calories
1 mini quiche = 75 calories

1 pig in a blanket = 90 calories
1 peanut butter cup = 95 calories
1 mini éclair = 100 calories
½ cup of chocolate mousse = 290 calories
1 slice of cheesecake = 400 calories

When you plan to go to a Holiday Party:

  • Eat before you go! If you leave the house on an empty stomach, you are more likely to overeat at the party you plan to attend.
  • Watch where you stand! If you stand near the food table it is more tempting to enjoy the goodies on display. Try standing farther away from the table, with your back turned towards it so you cannot observe others indulging.
  • Talk, talk, talk! Keep conversation your main priority; it will keep you occupied and away from food. Besides, you want to catch up with your family and friends.
  • Limit your drinking! Alcohol increases your hunger and lowers willpower.
  • Bring a low-calorie dish! If you are to bring a food dish, such as a dessert, bring fruit rather than cheesecake. Check out these Party Time: Guilt-Free Holiday Recipes from Fitness, like pear and cranberry crisp!
  • Listen to your stomach! You can enjoy all the holiday treats with everyone else; just watch your portion size. Once your stomach is satisfied, stop eating, rather than waiting until you are stuffed (or overstuffed!).

When you are Hosting a Party:

  • You are in control! When you are cooking or baking, substitute high-fat or calorie-laden ingredients with more healthy choices. Rather than using a whole egg you may use egg substitute. Instead of having dozens of cookies, bars, or candy set at a table, individually wrap portion sizes for guests. It will take away the snacking effect and they will have their very own goodie bag (it will feel like you’re giving them a gift!).
  • Chew gum! To avoid snacking on your own treats while you cook, chew a piece of sugar-free gum or sip tea. This will reduce the urge to sample.
  • Have a full stomach! You will be less tempted to taste while you prepare foods or snack as guests arrive.
  • Food Network has a ton of healthy recipes for the holidays, such as radiance fruit salad!

Holiday Parties at Work:

  • Keep options healthy! Put out an idea to have healthy alternatives, and limit sweets.
  • Sign up! Bring tangy tomato dip or pear-almond tart, rather than cookies or cake. Fitness has some great healthy holiday recipes, Season’s Eatings!
  • Use smaller plates! It will keep your portion sizes small. You will also have to decide what you put on your plate and what you can live without, rather than having everything on your plate.
Yes, it may be easier said than done, but once you start making healthy choices you will continue to make them. You can still eat healthy and indulge during the holidays. The battle of the bulge is not limited to holiday parties and celebrations. If you get food as a gift, take a small taste and then bring the rest to work for your coworkers to enjoy. Or, donate unopened foods to a local food bank.
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