The holidays bring a lot of temptations from every direction if dieting or watching your weight. Holiday parties and get-togethers can be a healthful-eating challenge. Caught up in conversation among friends and family, surrounded by tasty food and drinks, it's easy to lose track of what and how much is being eaten. Registered Dietitian Sarah Galicki offers tips for staying the course through the holidays.
"There are a lot of calories packed into this time of year. You're doing your holiday baking, people are dropping off candy and treats, there are parties with all-you-can-eat buffets and creamy drinks like eggnog, so it's important to be prepared. It is possible to navigate the holidays without gaining weight by doing these things."
Eat first. Never go to a party hungry. If you do, chances are you'll wind up eating too much, too fast. Eat a snack before you go, such as some Greek yogurt, which is loaded with protein and calcium. Add fruit for extra taste and nutrients, and top with pistachios for crunch and good fats.
Drink wisely. If you want to indulge a little bit, have some champagne or white wine. A 4-ounce glass has approximately 100 calories. By comparison, a cup of traditional eggnog has 344 calories and 19 grams of fat (11 grams saturated fat). Skip the creamy drinks. The best bet is to avoid alcohol altogether if possible. Drink a spritzer made with sparkling water, cranberry and a lime instead. It looks festive, tastes great and has hardly any calories.
Fill up on finger foods. Bite-size appetizers limit the calorie impact. A good option? Pistachios. They're great to snack on; 49 have exactly 150 calories, and they satisfy that crunchy craving. Plus, they're full of nutrients and fill you up. The healthy fats will help regulate your blood-sugar level throughout the night, which is helpful if you're drinking. Wrap some up decoratively and take along for a hostess gift to be sure there's a healthy choice on hand.
Survey your options. Mindful eating is always key in any situation. Once the buffet table opens, take a visual sweep past it before jumping in line and making your selections. This way you'll avoid piling one of everything onto your plate needlessly when you eventually pass through.
Don't be first in line. The food in a buffet line looks pretty in the beginning. Once people serve themselves, it's not as appealing and you'll eat less.
Get a small plate. This trick helps limit portion size.
Avoid the white stuff. Given other options, skip the white rice, white pasta and white bread. They're loaded with calories but no nutrients. Choose items with whole grains instead. They're full of nutrients and have fiber, which will fill you up so you won't eat as much.
Delight in dessert. Dessert is probably the toughest temptation of all. But there's no reason to skip. Most of us have a sweet tooth. Satisfy that sweet craving with some fresh fruit. To make sure it's available, bring some as a hostess gift; it's always welcome.
"Overall, pace yourself," advises Galicki. "Enjoy the food and festivities."