For some of us the holidays can be a time of extra stress. Not only do we have to cook elaborate meals for family members and guests, fight the traffic to shop for our loved ones and deal with busy jobs and having to work overtime BUT for the health conscience person we also have to worry about all of the rich foods at holiday parties and dinners! That is why I have put together a helpful list of 10 healthy tips to help you come out ahead!
I am a firm believer in being able to live your life and splurge from time to time but during the holiday season there can just be too many opportunities to cross that line and the line has to be drawn firmly in the sand if you want to lose weight or continue to maintain your weight. You cannot splurge at every party or dinner and think that you are going to be able to lose weight or even maintain your current weight. The best way to stay on track is to have a plan before you even step one foot into that party/dinner. I have come up with a list of 10 healthy tips that can help you stay on track and keep you on your game plan.
10 Healthy Tips For Holiday Parties and Dinners
- If you are throwing the party/dinner than you have all of the control! Make sure you prepare appetizers and a meal that includes both healthy options, secret healthy options (where you exchange less healthy ingredients with healthier ones but the swoop is not noticeable) and full blown rich recipes for those that want the true holiday experience. (Look for my list of ingredient swoops in a later post to come.)
- If the party/dinner is at another person's house you can kill two birds with one stone by bringing some of your own dishes. You will appear to be considerate and a gracious guest but you will also be bringing dishes that you know are healthy, in your calorie budget and are dishes that you like and can pile up on your plate. You don't want to come to a dinner and look "too good" to eat. It makes people uncomfortable and makes for tension for you and the hostess when you are constantly asked why you aren't eating or when the hostess feels you don't like any of their options. Eating mostly your own foods but putting a dash here and there of other choices will meet both your needs and allow you to be apart of the party.
- Another option when the party/dinner is not on your own terms is to pre-eat (such as a salad, some fruit or a bowl of oatmeal) before you arrive at your destination. This is especially good if the meeting is at a restaurant. You don't want to eat so much that when you arrive you can not partake with the others but rather your goal is to take that extra hungry edge off so that you are less tempted by choices that you would not normally make. When a party/dinner is set at a certain time, such at 8:00pm, you may be starving by that time and more likely to over eat. Eating a healthy snack at home ensures that you are filling yourself up first with something healthy and only allowing a more restricted amount of space for other options.
- If ordering or eating a salad is a choice at the party/dinner always start off with that! The more you fill yourself with obviously healthier choices the less room your have for unhealthy options and the less room you have for making choices that go against your weight loss goals.
- If you are allowed to serve yourself, always pick the smallest plate. A lot of how much we eat is based on signals to our brain. The same amount of food on a bigger plate physically looks different than it being on a smaller plate. If your eyes see a plate that is over filled you will more likely believe you are full at the end of eating it or that you have over down it compared to looking at a plate with a lot of bare space that makes you feel like you are already eating moderately and therefore can eat more.
- When it comes to sauces and dips, always remember that white sauces and dips usually hold more calories and unhealthy fat because they are usually made out of heavy creams. Always go for the salsa, pico de gallo or guacamole for added taste on foods if they are available.
- If the dinner is held at a restaurant, most likely you will know the name of the restaurant in advance. It is your job to research the food by pulling up the menu online or giving the restaurant a call and asking questions in advance. Your goal is to already walk into the restaurant knowing what you are going to order and what the total calories will be so that it is already worked into your daily calorie budget.
- Keep in mind that when you eat, the more variety you have the more you will sample and taste and ultimately eat.
- If you are eating at a restaurant, when you order, you can either order the smaller size instead of the dinner portion, or you can ask the waiter to only bring out half of the meal and box the other half to go. If you do not want to bring any home, when you reach your level of fullness, place your napkin over your plate. That will discourage you from continuing to mindless eat from your plate while you continue to socialize with friends and family.
- If you are at a party/dinner at your home or at another person's house, after you have ate what you have decided was your limit, throw your paper plate away or empty your plate and put it in the designated area in the kitchen to help imply to your mind and others that you are done. Then place a piece of mint gum into your mouth. The effort will help slow you down for returning for more if you have to start fresh with new utensils and the mint gum changes the flavors in your mouth making eating less appealing.
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