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Healthy Holiday Eating Tips

It’s a party (or two, or three), and all of the food looks delicious, but you don’t want to overindulge. What is a mere mortal to do?

Here are some smart ways to enjoy the season and the special goodies available during the holidays, but avoid that post-holiday regret

  1. Don’t skip meals thinking it will save calories. Getting to the next meal when you’re “starving” may cause you to eat more than you intended.
  2. When you arrive at a party, don’t go directly to the food. Greet the people you know – Conversation is calorie-free! Get a something to drink and settle into the festivities before eating anything. Overall, you may eat less.
  3. Beware of liquid calories – eggnog, beer, soda, wine. They go down so easy, but those empty calories are not quite as easy to work off. Ask for some festive-looking sparkling water with a lemon or lime twist instead.
  4. Fill up on the lower calorie, nutrient dense foods that may be available such as fruits, veggies, popcorn, lean meat on whole grain bread, etc.
  5. Make just one trip to the party buffet, choose only the foods you absolutely want (maybe items you don’t have the rest of the year) and keep portions small. Don’t waste calories eating food you don’t like, or you can have any time. Oh, and always use a plate for even the smallest snack rather than “grazing” – you’ll eat less.
  6. Eat only when you’re hungry, eat slowly and enjoy each mouthful.
  7. Contrast flavors, textures and temperatures for more satisfaction when you eat.
  8. Don’t buy or prepare goodies too far ahead of time. If you do, keep them out of sight or put in them the freezer and thaw them just in time for the event.
  9. Avoid too much tasting while you cook. The calories in all of those “little nibbles” here and there can really add up! Wait until it’s time to eat then sit down and savor it.
  10. If you’re bringing a dish to share, make it healthy and delicious. That way you know there is at least one thing to munch on without racking up the calories too fast.
  11. Don’t hang out near the food. Consciously socializing a fair distance from the buffet table prevents lots of unconscious nibbling.
  12. Forget the all-or-nothing mindset. Denying yourself special holiday foods or feeling for enjoying them is not a healthful eating strategy. Deprivation and guilt are certainly NOT part of the holiday spirit!
  13. Move it or lose it! The holiday season can be a stressful time for some people. It can be helpful to make a list of activities you can do other than eat to alleviate stress, feel bored, angry, frustrated, lonely, depressed or any other feeling that might lead to cravings. Take a walk, call a friend, turn on some music and dance with your significant other or your kids – better yet, make a night of it with friends. Or, if you must, do some cleaning. You’ll prevent consuming some unnecessary calories and hopefully, have some fun at the same time.
  14. Be realistic: If you’ve been trying to lose weight, trying to do it during the holiday season may be a self-defeating goal and in fact, add additional stress to your holidays. Instead, consider temporarily modifying your goal to simply maintaining your weight between Thanksgiving and New Years.

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