It starts with Thanksgiving and continues on through New Year’s: the season of temptations to overindulge. Here are ten tips for healthy holiday dining to help you navigate those big family food extravaganzas.
1. Go into the dinner with a plan. If you are eating a traditional family meal, you know your favorites. Think in advance about what you’ll eat and how much. Plan for small servings of rich, high calorie foods and go heavier on servings of lower calorie foods like fruits and veggies. A good plate plan of attack might be: fruit and veggies first (at least half your plate), proteins next, and then small portions of carbs.
2. Don’t skip meals in advance. You may want to eat a bit lighter before your big meal, but stick to your routine. Don’t go into a big holiday meal with a ravenous appetite — that’s a recipe for overindulging.
3. Avoid or limit finger-food and walk-around snacks. It’s easy to eat too much of “small bites” that you mindlessly grab while chatting or mingling. Sit down to eat and make every bite count in terms of taste, flavor, nutrition and calories.
4. Make the meal last. Eat slowly and savor the taste. Take small bites and chew well. Take time to enjoy the ambiance, the setting and the conversation. Pause between courses. Sometimes it can take 15 or 20 minutes before you feel full.
5. Drink water with your meal. Sip between bites. It will help you to feel full and will slow you down!
6. Be moderate about alcohol. Alcohol is very high in calories! Plus, alcohol stimulates your appetite and lowers your inhibitions – it can sabotage your plans and willpower for moderation.
7. Pass on seconds. Instead, plan to revisit your favorites via leftovers.
8. Limit sweets. You don’t have to skip desserts, but limit sweets to a small portion of your favorite.
9. Put food away after the meal is over. Don’t leave food sitting out all over the table, making it easier to keep picking. Plus, it’s much safer to refrigerate or package up foods than to leave them sitting out where they can spoil.
10. Plan a post-meal activity. Do something to get moving and burning off calories after you eat: a walk, a jog, a family game of volleyball, or put on some music and dance!
Here are a few handy tools: