Every year as the Christmas season rolls in, the temptation to throw your healthy diet out the window rolls in right with it. It all begins with Thanksgiving, and while making healthy food choices doesn’t seem like it fits with the holiday spirit, there are a number of low fat, low calorie options (as well as tips for how to handle holiday parties) that can keep you on pretty much on track until the New Year.
Here is a general guide on how to handle all the usual temptations of the holiday season, and how to effectively balance the foods you will come across.
- Fill up on veggies first. During the holiday season, it’s best to always have some vegetables on hand. That’s because even if you’re not at a party, there are bound to be some cookies or homemade fudge squares somewhere in your office or home to tempt you. If you commit to snacking on low fat, low calorie vegetables first, you will be less likely to overdo the most fattening foods.
- Choose lean meats. When debating what type main course to indulge in, try to stick to lean meats, or at the very least, those without heavy sauces. Any type of meat which is grilled or roasted can land on the healthy food list as long as it is prepared with simple herbs and seasonings, and it is free of too much fat. Safe food choices also include all the delicious lunch meats on the holiday deli platter. If you end up with a juicy prime rib, take a smaller cut and reduce the temptation to eat too much by cutting the meat up into bite-sized pieces, and discarding the extra fat right away (put it in a napkin or off to the side of your plate). Smaller pieces force you to eat slower, and they make you feel as if you are eating more than you are.
- Offer to bring a dish. One of the best ways to make great food choices is to offer to bring your own favorite dish to a holiday party. This way, you have control over the ingredients and can create a healthier, low calorie version of one of your favorites. For instance, instead of pie, bring a fruit tart; instead of a mayo and sour cream-inspired spinach dip, bring a spicy jalapeno hummus and baked chips; or instead of regular cheesecake or cookies, try baking with Stevia in place of sugar.
- Party with a plan. Parties are where people tend to make the worst food choices – especially at buffets or pot lucks. But, despite popular opinion, this is not because people are undisciplined or because there is too much temptation, it is primarily because they are distracted by all the holiday fun. While many people say “grazing” is one of the best ways to stay on track, I tend to lean toward the “get everything you want on one plate, once” mentality. This way you don’t end up going back too many times for “just one more bite,” and you can dictate the evening’s portions in proper perspective (one plate of food).
- Don’t skip the dessert. That’s right, eat it – just don’t eat too much. No dessert is that bad when eaten in moderation. If you allow yourself a little bit of your favorite dessert, you won’t feel deprived. It’s when you completely abstain during the holiday season that you are most likely to give up on your healthy habits. One thing you can do to cut back here, however, is to share some desserts with other people in order to get a sampling of more of the goodies. You might also want to skip over heavier desserts like cheesecakes and pecan pie.
Making healthy food choices during the holiday season isn’t as hard as it seems. All it takes is knowing what your low calorie, low fat alternatives are, and then making the commitment to take advantage of them. Happy Holidays!
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