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Healthy holiday eating calls for planning ahead
Only a Grinch would suggest we indulge only in fruits, veggies and brown rice at our upcoming holiday celebrations. But most of us would like to avoid that 5- to 7-pound weight gain that is typical over the holiday season.

One way you can have your cake and watch your waistline is to avoid “mindless eating.” Eating is “mindless” if you’re doing it on automatic pilot, paying little attention to what and how much goes into your mouth. Picture a guy absorbed watching a football game on TV, using a steady input of chips to calm his close-score jitters.

The holiday party season presents a host of temptations for mindless eating. Bellying up to a buffet without a game plan can result in leaving the party stuffed with food and regrets. Here are tips for staying mindful about eating while enjoying your holiday festivities:

  • Set realistic expectations for the holidays. Whatever your ultimate nutritional goals – losing weight, lowering cholesterol, etc. – you may want to just maintain your status quo until the end of the season. This will give you some wiggle room to keep from getting too frustrated.

  • Don’t skip normal meals and snacks the day of the party. If you leave the house with your stomach comfortably full, you’ll still have room to sample some of your favorites.

  • If you want to be sure you have a healthy option, bring a dish to the party, such as a vegetable or fruit tray, and maybe some of your favorite low calorie drinks.

  • Check out the entire buffet before you make your selections. This way you can choose reasonable portions of the goodies you’ll most enjoy, instead of filling your plate with something not particularly healthy and not even all that satisfying. Just be smart about how you spend your calories.

  • If you’re at a lengthy gathering, hold off starting to drink alcoholic beverages until halfway into the party. You’ll consume fewer calories and be better able to resist munching.

  • Sit down while you eat and use a plate or bowl. This will slow your eating and keep you tuned in to how many servings you’re consuming.

  • Don’t host a party on an empty stomach. While you’re busy preparing the food, squeeze in a snack of a peanut butter or cheese sandwich, or something else containing some protein and fat. And make a plan for giving away any surplus of desserts.

    Follow these steps and you can enjoy yourself at holiday parties, without sabotaging your commitment to healthy eating.

    Nancy Rodriguez, RD, LDN, registered dietitian at Edward Hospital, contributed to this article.


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