10 Healthy Eating Tips for a Holiday Party December 21, 2016
Although we set our best intentions when attending one holiday party after another, somehow we find ourselves feeling guilty after eating and drinking more than we should have.
In an effort to celebrate, we often end up overindulging — it happens to the best of us. But with these 10 tried-and-true tips, you can avoid extremes or excesses and stick to your healthy eating goals while still enjoying all there is to love about a holiday party with friends, family, and co-workers.
1. Don’t arrive hungry
“Saving” calories for later means you’ll feel overly hungry, which will cause your brain to release hunger hormones. By arriving to a holiday party on an empty stomach, you’re far more likely to overeat. So instead, eat a normal breakfast and then have a small snack right before the party. Also, drink at least a full glass of water before and with the meal – hunger can be triggered by dehydration!
2. Offer to bring a healthy dish
Not only are you guaranteed to have something healthy to eat, but the host will appreciate your help! If you’re looking for some inspiration, check out these 2 healthy snack alternatives. And when in doubt, hearty salads like this kale, apple, avocado, tomato, and almond one always work!
3. Choose your plate wisely
Use a red-colored plate (red means “stop” in our brains) – studies have shown those who use this color plate end up eating less compared to those using other colored plates. Also, be sure to grab a plate with a smaller circumference.
4. Divide your plate
Make sure half your plate is filled with veggies, 1/4 with starches (potatoes, grains, breads), and 1/4 with protein. With this plan, you’ll fill up on the nutrient dense foods first before indulging in higher fat, sugar, and sodium dense foods.
5. Think about portion size
Feel free to eat what you want, but determine what a healthy portion size for you would be prior to the big meal. That way you can enjoy a little bit of everything without going into caloric overload.
6. Move away from the buffet table
Be mindful not only of what you eat, but also where you decide to eat. Socializing away from the buffet table means you’ll be less likely to grab extra goodies while you chat.
7. Slow down
Eat with your non-dominant hand, take small bites, and chew slowly. Although it’s not as easy as it sounds, the disruption to your normal behavior will cause you to be more mindful of how much you’re eating and allow your brain the time it needs to register that your stomach is full (which takes about 20 minutes). In fact, studies have shown that those who use this technique reduce their food intake by an average of 30%.
8. Eat like a foodie
Foodies have a deep love and appreciation for all-things food and eating. While they love the delicious taste of a good meal, they also take great care to know where their food comes from and how it nourishes their bodies. So when given the choice, only eat foods that you actually want – you don’t need to eat everything on the table! Decide ahead of time what you will indulge in and focus on that one item, like I did when savoring this flourless orange almond cake.
9. Avoid excess alcohol
From champagne to mulled wine and even rosemary infused cocktails, food isn’t the only temptation at a holiday party. Try to avoid drinking your calories in the liquid form, which can add up quickly. The type of glass you use matters, too. Research has shown that when reaching for short wide glasses you pour 30% more. So instead, opt for a tall, skinny glass. For reference:
1 glass of wine = 5 fluid ounces = 125 calories
1 can of beer = 12 fluid ounces = 154 calories
1 shot = 1 ½ fluid ounces = 96 calories
10. Remember the reason you’re celebrating
Concentrate on socializing, making new friends, and having fun. Think about what you are celebrating and not just the great food. Better yet, be a rock-star guest and volunteer to help the host serve and wash dishes (which will also keep your mind off the food table).
The bottom line…
Don’t let feasting on traditional meals become too much of a good thing – instead remember that the holidays are a time to enjoy being with friends and family. The temptation to overindulge may be high, but with a little planning, your healthy eating goals don’t need to fall by the wayside.
While you’re at it, why not plan your way into a healthy lunch, too?