We know that the holiday season is a dreaded one for some because of the few extra pounds that seem to find us. However, we have pulled together a list of our favorite healthy holiday eating tips to help keep those extra pounds off!

  1. Eat your veggies and fruits

Eating seven or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day is a great way to help fill your stomach without exceeding your calorie count. Compared gram for gram with other snack foods (like chips, crackers and cookies), fruits and vegetables contain fewer calories and tons more nutrients. What’s more, the fiber in fruits and vegetables will fill you up faster than traditional snack foods.

  1. Never go to a party hungry

Before you go to a holiday party, eat a healthy snack such as a serving of your favorite fruit, fat-free yogurt or a handful of raw nuts. When you arrive at the party, do not rush mindlessly to the food table to fill up on snacks.  Instead, assess your hunger.  Once you feel hungry, take a look at all the food that’s available. Becoming aware of all the options will help you make more mindful choices.   

  1. Be in charge of your party choices

Make heart-healthy choices at parties. Bring a healthy appetizer (raw veggies or homemade whole-wheat pita chips with Greek yogurt or hummus dip, corn chips & guacamole or edamame) or dessert (fat-free pudding-based dessert or fruit crisp) so you know there will at least be one healthy choice. Use smaller plates to reduce the amount of food you eat. Avoid sauces made from cream, half-and-half or meat drippings and high-fat meats (meatballs, sausage, pigs-in-blankets, fried chicken wings.) And avoid drinking too many calories.

  1. Create a food-free zone

Serve food in one room only, leaving the rest of your home free for socializing. If guests take a plate and relocate to another area, they are apt to get chatty and forget about refilling their plate.

  1. Deconstruct that casserole

 “Casseroles are the very definition of comfort, but they’re often loaded with sodium, heavy cream, butter, and cheese,” Jamieson-Petonic says.

Instead, let the main ingredient go solo. Broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, asparagus, sweet peppers, butternut or acorn squash, and Brussels sprouts are just as delicious when baked or steamed. Flavor them with lemon juice, pepper, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, or spices like curry or ginger.

  1. Shrink the desserts

A holiday party just isn’t right without tempting sweets. So don’t skip them, Thayer says. Just offer very small portions. That way, your guests can taste a little bit of everything. Consider making many treats fruit-based. “Don’t underestimate fruit’s place at the dessert table,” she says. “Dishes like an apple baked with lots of cinnamon can look great and taste amazing.”

  1. Keep ‘em movin’

Give your guests something to do, Thayer says. It’s better for circulation, digestion, and calorie-burning than standing or sitting around. Start a game of charades or a scavenger hunt. Clear an area for dancing, or dust off that foosball or pool table. If it’s warm outside, offer bocce ball or horseshoes. Organize guests into teams and stage a competition — anything to keep people off the sofa.

  1. Try not to skip meals

It is best to eat normally throughout the day rather than trying to “save up” calories to splurge on one meal.

  1. Eat a healthy snack before going to a party

Taking the edge off your hunger will make it easier for you to control your eating choices when you are at the party.

  1. Choose a salad with dressing on the side before the main course

Select lean protein sources for your meal, such as grilled chicken or fish.

  1. Scan the buffet table before filling your plate

Then choose only your favorites and balance the healthy vs. the less healthy options.

  1. Bring a healthy dish to share as a safety measure

This way you know you will have something to eat that is a healthy choice.

  1. Drink alcohol in moderation

Alcohol is high in calories and it stimulates the appetite while decreasing willpower.

  1. Lighten up your holiday recipes
Regular Recipe ingredient Healthier Ingredient
Sugar and salt Your favorite spices and herbs- think sweet with cinnamon savory with thyme; cut down sugar up to half.
Heavy Cream Fat-free evaporated milk
Sweetened condensed milk Low-fat vanilla yogurt
White flour whole-grain wheat flour
Butter or oil Mashed bananas or applesauce

If you are looking for additional healthy holiday tips, please visit our resources for more tips! 

https://health.clevelandclinic.org/2014/12/8-tips-for-healthy-holiday-eating-infographic/
https://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/10-healthy-holiday-party-tips#2            http://www.aetna.com/employer/commMaterials/documents/Roadmap_to_Wellness/holiday-health-tips.pdf