By Keri Glassman, MS, RD, CDN
The holidays have arrived and so have those party invitations, work happy hours, and festive dinner parties. Don’t skip out on these events because you’re nervous about losing track of your dieting efforts. You can stay motivated through the holiday season by taking some basic precautions and eating consciously. Reply YES to as many of the festivities as you want and allow yourself some holiday cheer!
- Get Some Zzz’s! Make getting enough sleep a top priority. When our bodies don’t get enough rest, we are more likely to overeat and make poor food choices. It’s true, just 5 to 6 hours of sleep per night increases your risk of obesity by 23% versus getting the recommended 7 to 8 hours. Sweet dreams!
- Drink Up! As winter rolls in, and it gets chillier outside, you might not be drinking enough water. If water is too cold for you to drink, try drinking a hot mug of herbal tea as an alternative. It will warm you up and hydrate you at the same time. Sometimes our bodies mistake hunger for thirst, so stay hydrated to prevent unnecessary overeating.
- Eat Empowered! By eating throughout the day, you won’t end up eating everything off the hors d’oeuvres tray! “Ruin” your appetite by having a snack before you go to a party.
- Be Prepared! Stock some must-have foods in your kitchen to prepare an easy healthy snack or meal when you come home from the cocktail party. Some good options are: Arnold 100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Thins Rolls, bean-based veggie burgers, and frozen veggies. With these ingredients, you can make a fast and healthy meal at home instead of lingering over unhealthy finger foods.
Now that you’re prepped for the holiday event, here are some handy tips for steering clear of the naughty list of foods and sticking to the nice list while at the party:
- Only one trip to the buffet line. Scope out the buffet options before you get in line. Make your decisions about what you’ll sample ahead of time.
- Only take foods you really want. Vary your choices to include plenty of veggies, some high protein foods, and a small to moderate amount of starches.
- Craving fix. No need to cut out all your favorite holiday treats. For the high calorie foods you can’t resist, select just enough to get a satisfying bite or two. Balance out your plate with the lower calorie, “cleaner” options. Just because you indulge slightly does NOT mean you should throw in the towel on the event or the night.
- Sit down and enjoy the food you selected. This helps eliminate mindless eating. No standing and eating!
- Don’t hang-out by the buffet. Focus on mingling with friends and family. Make a point to visit with everyone you know at the gathering. Shift your attention towards socializing rather than eating.
- Portion your plate! At a dinner party, imagine your plate divided into thirds. Use the first third for white meat turkey or other lean protein. The second third is for salad and “clean” vegetable dishes. Finally, the last third is for all the starches; including, sweet potatoes, stuffing and cranberry sauce. And no cheating by piling the last third up tall, that’s only allowed for the salad section!
- Indulge Consciously! For those must have dishes that just can’t be trimmed of fat and calories – remember to go for it – but in a conscious manner. Avoid the post-meal sluggish feeling by cutting the portion in half and feel empowered having a controlled portion. Always try to have a cup of tea on hand—try pumpkin spice or cinnamon tea to stay in the festive mood. This will help slow down your eating, allowing you to listen to your body and be more mindful.
- Alcohol strategy:
- Alcohol is absorbed quickly on an empty stomach. This can cause an increase in appetite and may result in unhealthy food choices. Try to eat before you have your first alcoholic drink.
- Drink water or seltzer in-between alcoholic drinks.
- Choose lower calorie beverages (light beer, wine spritzers)
Throwing your own party? Here are a couple of recipes that will keep you motivated and on track for a nutritious holiday season, but still allow you and your guests a sweet conscious indulgence. Enjoy!
Ginger Cinnamon Hot Chocolate: (makes 4 servings)
- 4 cups fat free milk
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 7 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped (about 7 squares)
- Combine milk, ginger and cinnamon in a saucepan over medium-low heat until almost boiling
- Add chocolate, stirring until fully melted.
- Whisk until frothy and serve immediately.
Mini Pumpkin Pie Bites: (makes 24 servings)
- 6 tablespoons wheat germ
- 4 tablespoons ground flax seed
- 4 all natural ginger snap cookies, crushed
- 2 large eggs
- 1 (15 ounces) can plain pumpkin puree
- 1 (2 ounces) can fat -free evaporated milk
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
- 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3/4 cups fat-free Greek yogurt
- 1/4 cups pure maple syrup
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Coat a nonstick 24-cup mini muffin pan with canola oil cooking spray.
- Mix wheat germ, flaxseed, and ginger snaps in a bowl. Add a heaping teaspoon of the mixture to each muffin cup. Set aside.
- Whisk eggs in another bowl. Add pumpkin puree, evaporated milk, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice, and vanilla extract. Whisk to combine.
- Pour mixture evenly into prepared muffin cups.
- Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until sides are sturdy and filling is set. Let cool 10 to 15 minutes before using a knife to loosen and remove from pan.
- Combine yogurt and maple syrup in bowl. Cover and chill.
- Top each with a dollop of yogurt mixture. Enjoy!
Join Keri for her next member meeting, “Stay Motivated this Holiday Season” on Thursday, December 15th at 2pm and 9pm ET. See you in the chat room!
Nationally recognized nutrition expert and published author Keri Glassman is the founder and president of Keri Glassman, Nutritious Life, a nutrition practice based in New York City. For years, Keri has been a leader in advancing a “whole person” approach to health and wellness. She has dedicated her career to creating services and promoting education through her “Nutritious Life” brand.
She has authored two books; the most recent is The O2 Diet. The Cutting Edge, Antioxidant-Based Program That Will Make You Healthy, Thin and Beautiful. (Rodale, December 2009.) This book translates complex scientific research on antioxidants and the ORAC scale into useful and useable tools that everyone can benefit from. It empowers people to live a more Nutritious Life by combining a nutrient dense, high antioxidant diet with the other components of the Nutritious Life Cycle. The O2 Diet follows the Snack Factor Diet, (Crown, 2007.)
Keri is a contributing editor and advisory board member for Women’s Health Magazine, and was the first registered dietitian to create a real food based snack bar, KeriBar. Additionally, Keri is the Nutrition and Health contributor for NBC’s LX New York, and is regularly featured on national television programs including The View, Dr. Oz, The Doctor’s, The Wendy Williams Show, NBC The Today Show, ABC Good Morning America, MSNBC and The Fox News Channel. Keri has a blog on AOL Health/That’s Fit, and writes a monthly newsletter for Ediets.com.
Keri resides in New York City with her husband Brett and their children, Rex and Maizy.