Posts Tagged ‘weight management tips for holidays’

How to Enjoy the Holidays without Gaining (Much) Weight

December 8, 2009

Holiday parties and dinners present all kinds of options.  I think all foods are fine in moderation.  The trick is moderation!  Here are some tricks for enjoying food in moderation, if, like me, you tend to over-indulge and pack on pounds…

Don’t skip meals on the day of the party. You know what a beast stored hunger is.  You’ll be far better off if you eat a good breakfast and lunch and stay hydrated before dinner or cocktail parties.  If you usually eat cereal or toast for breakfast, maybe try oatmeal that day, or eggs and canadian bacon, for more staying power throughout the day.   I tend to drink more water if I put a very small amount of juice, like cranberry juice, in it.  If you don’t drink enough water, try this trick!

Eat before you go out. If you can manage to grab a snack before you go out, you’ll be less likely to eat too much at the party (or before shopping!).  Eat something substantial, like greek yogurt with honey, and a small handful of almonds.  That will line your tummy, too.

Always keep a camera handy. Why?  If you get attacks of shyness at social gatherings (like I do), you can always take pictures of people, or holiday decorations, or the food.  That way, you won’t eat or drink just to keep busy or to feel less conspicuous if no one is talking to you.  Taking pictures keeps you busy and can be a great ice-breaker.

Look out for the holiday blues. Everyone I know gets depressed a little bit at some point during the holidays.  It’s really common.  Before you snack, ask yourself if you’re really hungry, or just bored, lonely, disappointed, tired, or even thirsty.  If you’re hungry, eat.  Otherwise, have a cup of peppermint tea (hot beverages are great for curbing appetite) and take a walk outside to rev up your mood and your metabolism.

Skip (or reduce) the alcohol. I enjoy a cosmopolitan or glass of wine as much as anyone, but I have noticed that if I drink alcohol, I tend to eat more (probably because it makes me relax and lowers my inhibitions).  So, there are a few strategies that have worked for me.  One is to order cranberry spritzers (cranberry juice and soda), or club soda with lime (which has almost no calories).  You can also order white wine spritzers, or ask the bartender to make a drink with half the alcohol.  I prefer a cocktail that is light on alcohol, myself.  If you choose to drink, alternate imbibing cocktails or glasses of bubbly champagne (100 calories) with glasses of water, mineral water, or seltzer.  (This will also help prevent a hangover!)

Try the lower fat versions in recipes. In some cases, they are really good.  I don’t do artificial sweeteners, but I like light versions of sour cream, mayonnaise, and salad dressing and use them in my recipes for veggie dip, etc.  Nonfat greek yogurt can stand in for sour cream or creme fraiche in some dishes.

A great way to cut fat in mashed potatoes is to mash them with buttermilk.  It’s delicious! But pass on the homemade gravy — too much fat.  Try canned gravy or jarred gravy instead; we’re talking a 300 calorie-plus difference!

I love stuffing with lots of onion and celery.  Try replacing all or some of the butter in stuffing recipes with canned, fat free chicken stock.  Also, don’t cook it inside the turkey.  It will absorb fat and calories from the bird.

Dress hot vegetables like green beans, broccoli or brussel sprouts with a spray of  I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter spray.  It’s good and very low in fat and calories.  I also use flavored salad sprays to pep up veggies, such as Asian or Caesar flavors.  They add great flavor for almost no calories.

Sweet potato casserole with marshmallows.  Just don’t go there.  I know, it’s delicious but if I told you how many calories, you wouldn’t believe me.  Try this version of sweet potato casserole instead, which has only 3 g of fat and at least half the calories.

Eat this, not that. I’m a big fan of the “Eat This, Not That” feature in Men’s Health.   It’s amazing the calories you can save just by choosing pumpkin pie over pecan pie.  And that spray whipped cream only has 30 calories a serving!  If you ate just the top of your pie, along with the canned whipped cream, you’d save all kinds of calories by skipping the fat-laden crust.

Hard cheeses like parmesan can be a safer bet than the soft ones, like Brie. But if you can pass on the Brie, you are a stronger person than I am 🙂

Lean meats and fish are good bets on the buffet table, but choose shrimp cocktail (lovely, lovely shrimp has very few calories) instead of crab cakes. Beef tenderloin is a luscious 165 calories a serving.

Olives have practically no calories at all.

I was surprised at how many calories are in fruit cake. It seems so benign! If you indulge, take just a nibble.

Need a holiday treat?  I love low-fat egg nog.  Then I either have a very small glass, or I cut it half and half with milk.  I never miss the fat in sorbet, or in light peppermint ice cream, either.

Like Starbucks?  Did you know a lot of those holiday coffee drinks are packed with calories and fat?  Make your own coffee at home and add purchased flavored creamers (30 calories per serving) like White Chocolate Peppermint or Pumpkin and top with canned whipped cream (another 30 calories) and you’ll save money and more than 500 calories in some instances!

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