Monday, December 5, 2011

5 Pointers for Guilt-free Holiday Eating

Simple eating strategies can help you avoid the "holiday 10."

Plate of Christmas cookies
You don't have to say no to your favorite Christmas cookies.

When it comes to the holiday season, food is central to every celebration, from family holiday dinners to office holiday parties and all of those special cookies exchanged. The holidays also bring out the richest, most decadent foods of the year, often adding excess calories and pounds.

However, with a few simple eating strategies, the "holiday 10" will no longer be an unwanted New Year's surprise:

  1. Eat first — Do not skip your normal meals and snacks prior to the party. Arriving famished will likely result in overeating. Nourishing yourself wisely to start will help you make better choices about the foods you choose and to recognize when you are full.
  2. Create healthy traditions — If the party is a potluck, bring a healthy version of a holiday classic or create a new healthy signature dish. A simple edamame salad with basil, dried cranberries, low-fat feta cheese and a splash of olive oil creates a beautiful red and green dish packed with nutrients.
  3. Drink wisely — Avoid drinking alcohol on an empty stomach and be sure to alternate drinking water with alcoholic drinks. Alcohol increases appetite and decreases inhibition — a sure formula for eating more than you intended.
  4. Find the veggies — Almost every party has a vegetable platter with a variety of fresh, raw vegetables. Be sure to eat these first; the high fiber and water content will fill you up without excess calories.
  5. Taste and enjoy — Take a look at all of the delicious offerings and pick your top two or three favorites. Take a small portion of each and enjoy it to the fullest, then move on to enjoy the company of your friends, family or co-workers.

Following these strategies at every party can help add joy to your holidays without adding pounds.

Bridget Nichols, dietetic intern, and Debra A. Boutin, MS, RD, chair and dietetic internship director, Department of Nutrition and Exercise Science at Bastyr University.

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