Holiday Eating Tips
Oh, the outrageous amount of food and alcohol over the holidays… “It only comes around once a year, so why not indulge completely?” Well, it’s just not a good idea to go crazy with food at every holiday event, especially if you have a lot of parties and social obligations over this joyous season. Pigging out at every party can really add up over the five weeks from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, turning into the unwelcome guest of weight gain that will be difficult to get rid of, and even more so as we get a little older.
I enjoy the holiday season to the fullest and do enjoy some sweets and wine, but I choose my food carefully at every event. With a busy social life, business parties, and a huge multi-faith family, Catholic, Protestant, Jewish and Buddhist, all in one family (yes, it’s true), I can end up going to 10 parties in the month of December.
Here are some tips for healthy party eating that can make your diet-conscious holiday experience feel like an indulgence. Look over all of the available food choices first, then pick which treats you are going to have. This will stimulate your brain into healthy eating. Then, think about how good the treats are going to be. This is one of my favorite eating strategies and can actually prevent overeating.
Appetizers and pre-meal snacks –
1) Skip them all together. These are often the fattiest and most calorie-laden items at a party. If you just can’t skip them, choose 3 of the best ones, eat those, and stop at that. Do not feel the need to grab at every appetizer if they are being passed around on a plate; this can add up before you know it.
2) Don’t sit by the snacks; this can lead to mindless picking and over-consuming. Go sit next to Grandma — she misses you, and you won’t talk with your mouth full.
3) Pick away at the vegetable appetizers, my personal favorites. I eat the carrot sticks and celery (Go easy on the dips!), and I’ll have just a few chips.
4) Eat the pretzels, low fat and not such a bad snack. If there are sesame pretzels, that’s all the better for your sodium intake.
5) Try the hummus. Yes, it is very high in calories, but hummus is also very high in fiber and protein and can make you feel more full very quickly.
Alcohol equals 100 calories for a glass of wine or a beer, 100-plus calories for a cocktail, and some cocktails can have up to 300 calories each. Keep this in mind when enjoying your holiday cheer.
The lovely Christmas meal –
1) Eat slowly, take the time to enjoy the company and the meal.
2) Try everything, but do so in small, 2- to 3-tablespoon portions. You will be surprised how full this can make you feel, and you get to enjoy all of the dishes at the dinner.
Hanukkah is a celebration of the oil; therefore, it is almost impossible to eat a low-calorie meal at these holiday celebrations. Here are some healthy tips for enjoying your latkes (potato pancakes, fried in oil) .
1) My family mixes low-fat yogurt or kefir into the traditional sour cream to cut the fat content of the sour cream in half (Low-fat sour cream is also available, if you can find it.). With a nice oily latke, you can hardly tell the difference in taste. Greek yogurt makes a great sour cream substitute too.
2) Pile on the applesauce! Remember, an apple a day helps keep the doctor away. Also, you may shop around for lower-sugar applesauce, and if you have time, you can make it at home; it’s fun to do, tastes delicious, and the family members literally eat it up!
3) Just have one or two latkes if you are trying to lose weight — end of story. These babies can have up to 200 calories each.
4) Get into the gym the next day after Hanukkah, burn off those latkes and all that fortified Manischewitz wine. You’ll need at least an hour of cardio exercise to burn off the latkes, but hey, an hour of cardio is the gift to yourself that keeps on giving!