The holiday season is upon us, which means the delightful aroma of festive foods will be a constant temptation. But never fear... there are ways to avoid the relentless temptations to overindulge.
All you need are a few helpful tips that will ensure you stay true to your diet, and reduce the strain on your waistline and your health.
1. Don't Arrive Empty-Handed
You can always guarantee that a party will have healthy, filling foods if you volunteer to bring some of them! To incorporate a healthful holiday touch to a dish, add some strawberries, kiwi fruit and slivered almonds.
2. Keep Your Distance
It's true that distance makes the heart grow fonder, but it can also keep it healthier. When you're at party, it's crucial to keep distance between yourself and the trays of food. This makes it harder for you to mindlessly reach for food as you talk.
If you know you're prone to recreational eating, it may be helpful to pop a mint, chew a stick of gum, or sip a non-caloric beverage from a fancy glass so you don't mindlessly munch.
3. Don't Go on an Empty Tank
It always seems like a good idea to fast before going to a holiday dinner, but a mindset such as this is what causes us to over-indulge. Instead, make sure to eat a small, low-calorie meal or snack before leaving.
Options include: apple slices with peanut butter, low-fat yogurt, or some raw carrots. These foods make excellent pre-party snacks, due to the healthy combination of complex carbohydrates and protein, keeping you energized and not famished.
4. Take 10
It takes a few minutes before your stomach recognizes that it's getting full, and sends the "I'm getting full" signal to your brain. After finishing your first helping, take a 10-minute break. Make conversation or drink some water. Water or a non-caloric beverage helps fill you up and is calorie free. Then recheck your appetite; you might realize you are full, or only want a small portion of seconds.
5. Drink to Your Health
A glass of eggnog can set you back 500 calories; wine, beer and mixed drinks range from 150 to 225 calories. If you drink alcohol, try to have a glass of water or seltzer between drinks. Otherwise alcoholic beverages should be avoided altogether. Alcohol increases your appetite and diminishes your ability to control what you eat; so drink a glass of water instead!
6. Be Selective
If the party food is buffet style, circle the table first before selecting. By surveying your options before selecting, you may be less inclined to pile up food on your plate. Remind yourself to spend those calories on foods you truly enjoy.
Take small potions, and savor small bites, slowly. You can often get more satisfaction from food by eating "mindfully" than by mindlessly shoveling.
7. 'Tis the Season to be Jolly
The holidays are meant to be a time with family and friends, of laughter and cheer. Remind yourself the true purpose of the holidays when thoughts of food cloud your judgment. But don't spend your holiday stressing about food! Remember that the food you eat is a balancing act. If you have chosen to over-do-it at the holiday party, choose to cut back the next day â€" that will help you strike a healthy energy balance.
Lisa M. Davis, Ph.D., PA-C, C.N.S., L.D.N. is Director of Research and Development for Medifast. She holds a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University with a focus in Obesity Research, and she is currently the Director of Research and Development for the Medifast Program, a leading portion-controlled clinically proven weight loss program and co-author of the book, Anti-Inflammatory Foods for Health.