It doesn’t have to be this way. That “ahh, what the heck, I’ll just finish it because it’s the holidays” moment I’m talking about when faced with a pile of your aunt’s renowned creamy potato casserole. I say, “Put down the fork!” and practice these easy survival tips at your next gathering – and throughout the New Year:
Appetizers & Cocktails:
- Watch out for a little nibble here and there…the calories, fat, and salt add up quickly! A handful of almonds is about 170 calories, a handful of chips is about 140 calories, and a handful of chex mix is about 140 calories. Snack smarter by having fresh veggies and dips, veggie centered appetizers, shrimp cocktail, fresh fruit.
- Use a small plate for appetizers instead of mindlessly grabbing items.
- Be mindful of liquid calories. Save calories by choosing warmed apple cider over eggnog. Specialty cocktails tend to be loaded with sugar and extra calories. Try to limit your portion to one, then switch to light beer, sparkling wine, or club soda.
- When it comes to dips, choose salsa and bean-based over creamy ones like crab and artichoke to save around 50 calories per serving.
The Main Event:
- Before you dig in, pause and skim over the available selections so you can make the smartest choices and still indulge in 2-3 options you can’t do without!
- On Thanksgiving, opt for white meat with no skin to save over 100 calories per serving.
- It’s okay to say, “No thank you” when offered seconds.
- Keep an eye out for creamy dishes as these are high in fat and salt. Keep your portions smaller than what you would normally take and savor the flavor.
- Holiday dinners tend to be heavy on starch and meats. Change it up and bring a dish that emphasizes non-starchy vegetables like roasted chestnut and Brussel sprouts or chilled asparagus in a vinaigrette dressing.
- Bulk up half of your plate with vegetable options and focus on having a colorful plate. Instead of rack of lamb, have a fish dish or instead of ham, try tenderloin.
- Enjoy desserts but try to pick options that are smaller in size or fruit-focused, like bite- sized cheesecake or baked apples.
- The thickest part of a slice of pie should be no larger than a business card.
- Cut the dessert in half and resist the temptation to eat the whole helping.
- Leave the crust of desserts to save 2 tablespoons of butter or 200 calories.
- If you had your share of dessert, but are still eyeing the table, grab a tea or coffee instead.
- When baking, replace oil with unsweetened applesauce in recipes. This trick hasn’t failed me yet!
Overall Guidance for Party Smarts:
- Don’t save all your calories for the buffet. Make sure to eat beforehand. You can choose to eat a lighter fare like Greek yogurt and fruit, egg and toast, vegetable soup, or a salad. When we save our calories, we tend to overeat because we are so hungry!
- Focus on the people and activities rather than the buffet.
- If you notice you are always hovering around the food, consciously decide to move somewhere else.
- Scout out what you really want, and make sure to have it, but also load up on the fruit and veggie options. Set a goal to eat at least two different vegetables.
- Eat when you are hungry. Really. Don’t eat because you feel obligated or don’t want to offend someone.
Robyn Beechuk is one of the registered dietitians on the HealthEase Your Fuel team who provides nutrition counseling to our corporate clients’ employees. For more nutrition tips and recipes from Robyn, visit her website: https://www.robynswellness.com/