‘Tis the season to savor the holidays without regrets! The holidays often bring a parade of delicious dishes and tempting treats that make it easy to let our healthy choices take a back seat. Worry not, for amidst the indulgence, a sprinkle of mindful eating can help keep the holiday spirit alive while still honoring your health and well-being.
Join the merriment with guilt-free bites that won’t leave you feeling like a stuffed turkey. Kelly Anne Erdman, INLIV’s Registered Dietitian, shares 10 quick tips to help you conquer dietary challenges over the holidays.
- Stick with 3 meals and 2-3 Small Snacks daily: Plan to eat regularly, even on a party day. Skipping meals can make you hungry and more likely to overeat. If an event or meal starts late, eat a healthy breakfast and lunch during the day. Have a small snack (for example, Greek yogurt and a piece of fruit) in the late afternoon before a special evening meal.
- Limit some appetizers: Many small bite appetizers are high in calories and fat. Choose a few items that you enjoy and leave the rest. Drink water to help avoid overeating. Skip the chips and creamy dips and opt for fresh cucumber sticks, broccoli flowerets, carrot curls, red and green peppers. Serve with a low-fat dip, hummus, yogurt with herbs, fat-free sour cream or fresh salsa.
- Build a healthy plate: Fill at least half of your plate with vegetables and fruits, fill one-quarter of your plate with whole grains/starch and the other one-quarter with a low-fat protein source.
- Eat slowly: Take time to enjoy your meal. Eating slowly will help you sense “fullness” and can keep you from over-eating. If you want to go back for more, drink a glass of water or wait 20 minutes to see if you are really hungry.
- Modify your recipes. Calories in a recipe can often be reduced by using lower-fat ingredients, like light sour cream, low-fat cheese, evaporated two percent milk and/or by reducing the sugar content. Most recipes are fine with a one-third reduction in sugar. You may also use unsweetened apple sauce, dried fruits, grated carrots, or zucchini in your recipes to reducing the sugar content.
- Keep your eyes on portion sizes: It’s not always what you eat but how much you eat that can lead to overindulgence at any time of the year. Enjoy a small portion such as one piece of shortbread, baklava, mincemeat pie, deep-fried samosa, or potato latkes.
- Watch the temptations from the “see food” diet: Chances are, if you hadn’t seen the dish of mixed nuts or the box of chocolates, you may not have had some. Awareness is the key; always portion your foods (including snacks) on to a plate, sit and enjoy – be mindful of the food choices you make.
- Be prepared: Go to a party with a plan. Your plan should include the number of drinks you wish to drink, an idea of the food you intend to eat, and the intention of enjoying the event more than the food. Without obsessing, thinking ahead can help you manage your food intake and control alcohol consumption.
- Don’t let one bad meal ruin your week: The key to maintaining good health and keeping fit is to get back on track at the very next meal. If you have had a massive lunch, then have a salad or omelette for dinner. If you have had too much to drink, resist the fry-up for breakfast and get back on track with some oatmeal and berries. One meal is not enough to make your clothes tighter, whereas a whole week of bad eating can really have an impact.
- Choose healthy drinks: Many holiday drinks are high in sugar and calories. Drinks with alcohol not only contain a lot of calories but also increases your appetite, so you’ll eat even more calories. Try limiting these drinks:
- Eggnog (regular):
- 1 cup eggnog= 340 calories (with 19 grams of fat, equivalent to 4.5 teaspoons of butter)
- 1 cup of 0% eggnog = 210 calories
- Hot chocolate: 1 cup = 150 to 250 calories
- Pop, iced tea or fruit punch: 1 cup= 90 to 120 calories
- Wine: 1 glass (5oz or 150ml) = 125 calories
- Liquor: 1 shot (1 ½ oz or 45ml) = 100 calories
- Beer: 1 can (12oz or 355ml) = 150 calories
To limit the calories from drinks at a holiday event:
- Try a wine spritzer (½ white wine and½ club soda) for half the calories
- Mix a drink with diet pop
- Pace yourself with sugar-free sparkling water between each drink
Need more support with nutritional advice and planning? Request an appointment with Kelly Anne Erdman, Registered Dietitian.