When the holidays arrive, the temptation hits. Your mom’s famous apple pie, your grandmother’s potato latkes. Cakes, cookies, rich entrees and countless side dishes adorn the holiday buffet tables. It can be a healthy eater’s nightmare. But if you prepare yourself with the right tips and tools before you go to a holiday party, you may find that saying “no” to another bite of cheesecake is easier than you thought.
According to the Mayo Clinic, limit yourself to three bites of any dish that you’re desperate for. This way you get the satisfaction of eating something rich and delicious without all of the calories.
When eating rich foods, it is important to take your time. Savor every bite for better enjoyment and to allow that feeling to travel to your brain. It usually takes about 20 minutes for your brain to get the message from your stomach that you are full. By eating slowly, you might be less likely to be tempted by the apple pie.
Christopher Hirschler, PhD, assistant professor of Health Studies says, “Enjoy the food you eat, but consider focusing more on the quality of the food rather than the quantity. A full plate is not always better. Consuming more can lead to physical as well as psychological discomfort as well.”
Emily Hunter, a junior says, “I think the trick to eating healthy is eating smaller portions so that you are able to still enjoy the holiday food, without overdoing it. Just because it is the holidays, doesn’t mean we should have to change any of our original day-to-day healthy eating habits.”
Erika Kurdyla, a junior, agrees that smaller portions are key. It’s a great way to be mindful of what you are eating along with how much. Kurdyla also recommends using a smaller plate instead of a larger one, this way you are less likely to over eat from the beginning.
As for drinking choices, choose water, flavored water, apple cider or diet soda at any holiday event, according to the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Unfortunately, many holiday gatherings are centered around alcohol, which is usually very high in calories. If you must have a drink, limit yourself to one per hour and drink a glass of water in between to cut your calorie and alcoholic intake over the course of the night.
As for side dishes, not only are vegetables naturally low-fat, low-cal and chock-full of nutrients, they help you feel satisfied longer than other types of foods. According to healthdiscovery.net, the fiber will cause your stomach to feel fuller, and you will have a greater sense of fulfillment which will help you stay on track. Eating raw veggies as snacks, appetizers, in salads, and side dishes is a great way to keep your appetite in check.
Eat a light snack before going to holiday parties. It is not a good idea to arrive at a party famished. Not only are you more likely to overeat, but you are also less likely to resist the temptation of eating the higher fat and higher calorie foods. Try eating a piece of fruit, a small carton of yogurt, or a string cheese before you go.
As for the healthiest choice of meat, turkey is the best choice, according to the Whole Foods website. In addition to being an excellent source of protein, turkey offers the least amount of fat per serving, among all other meats, if you pass on the skin. If you love gravy, use a small dish to put gravy in, and dip the meat instead of pouring it on. As a general rule, white meat is leaner than dark meat – so choose the breast meat of a chicken or turkey rather than the drumstick and be sure to trim the visible fat off of meats.
For vegetarians, there is a healthy alternative to the traditional turkey, tofurkey.
This is a turkey replacement made from a blend of wheat protein and organic tofu. It can be purchased at various supermarkets and health food stores.
Senior Christina Hartel says, “I think eating healthy should be practiced all year, not just during the holiday season, and I feel my best when I eat lots of vegetables. This Thanksgiving, I will be eating a tofurky Vegetarian Roast.”
According to peta.com, leading health experts agree that eating a vegetarian diet is the single best thing you can do for your body.
It’s okay to leave what you don’t want to eat. Despite what your parents may have drilled into you as a child, don’t feel obliged to clear your plate. When you feel full, stop eating. It’s that simple.
As for desserts, try to make wise choices rather than deny yourself. Have a smaller portion and savor every mouthful when you have choices, opt for desserts that are lower in fat and sugar. For example, if faced with a plate of cookies, you may decide to choose the sugar cookies or gingerbread cookies over shortbread cookies as they tend to be lower in fat.
It is important to remember that overeating one day won’t make or break your eating plan. And it certainly won’t make you gain weight!
It takes days and days of overeating to gain weight. If you over-indulge at a holiday meal, put it behind you. Return to your usual eating plan the next day without guilt or despair.
Enjoy the holidays, plan a time for activity, incorporate healthy recipes into your holiday meals, and don’t restrict yourself from enjoying your favorite holiday foods.
In the long run, your mind and body will thank you.
PHOTO COURTESY of ireallylikefood.com