Ahhhh the holidays. Filled with relatives, presents, cocktails and of course, food. Massive amounts of food. In fact, most of us eat so much from Thanksgiving to New Years that we end up gaining the weight we later resolve to take off. We tell ourselves, “It’s the holidays and I’m not going to deprive myself. I’ll start over for New Years.”
That’s the kind of attitude that adds to your waistline and will make you miserable. I know it takes a lot of self-discipline to avoid giving in to the temptation to pig out. So this year, why not kick off the holidays on a healthy foot? Whether you’re the hostess or attending festivities elsewhere, I’m going to give you some sneaky tips to reducing the calories (while still keeping the flavor) and ways to avoid self-sabotage when attending someone else’s feast.
Healthy Holiday Survival Tips
When You’re the Host
Sometimes all it takes to turn traditional recipes into healthy recipes are a few key swaps. I swear, no one will even notice these!
- Instead of deep frying or placing butter under the skin of your turkey, use an herb and spice mixture instead. Then discard the skin before serving.
- Substitute mashed potatoes for cauliflower mash (delicious gravy recipe too!)
- Serve more veggie side dishes than starchy ones.
- When making a soup or stock– it’s not necessary to drench veggies in oil or butter to achieve great flavor. Use a small amount of oil and let the veggies sweat.
- Don’t serve bread. If you call everyone to the table when it’s time to eat, no one will really miss it. If anyone does you can just play dumb like you forgot.
- Serve quinoa stuffing instead of using bread crumbs.
- Make your own cranberry sauce instead of the icky, super sweet, canned kind.
- Don’t forget dessert! Instead of going crazy and making several options, just make a couple and have one of them be healthier.
- Making a chocolate cream pie? Swap your regular pudding mix for the fat-free, sugar-free version.
You don’t have to go crazy and do all of these, but a swap or two here and there might save you from having to add an extra hole to your belt this year.
When you’re a guest:
So you want to be healthy this holiday season, but you aren’t hosting so the food is out of your control. How do you enjoy yourself and still be healthy, while not looking like a total weirdo?
- Bring your own. Sometimes when you ask what to bring the hostess will tell you, “No, no, no! I have everything covered.” Maybe she’s being polite, maybe she’s being a control freak. Either way, ignore her. Bring a healthy appetizer so you can fill up a bit beforehand and/or a healthy side dish or dessert. This is a surefire way you’ll have something you can feel good about eating while also being an A+ guest by bringing something.
- Drink water. Drink an entire glass of water before you sit down and eat. You’ll get fuller faster and will feel less of a need to pig out.
- Don’t eat the skin. I know, the skin is the best part. Save yourself some fat and calories and don’t eat it. Whether you serve yourself and avoid it or take it off your plate and have your sig other scarf it down, avoid it.
- One serving. Somehow holiday meals have turned into a gorge-fest where people are consuming plate after plate of holiday goodness. Don’t. Give yourself one small serving of whatever you’d like– and don’t go back for seconds.
- Eat Slowly. The slower you eat, the more you will enjoy your meal. Savor each bite and your tummy will tell you it’s satisfied without another helping.
- Veg out. Eat those veggies first before you tackle your protein and then save the starches for last. If you get full you’re more likely to have eaten the good stuff and less likely to have overeaten on the higher calorie stuff.
- No bread. Yes I know warm bread is magical but at a feast, it’s literally a waste of space.
- Skip the cocktails. Or limit yourself to just one or two. Empty calories add up when drinking and you’re more likely to binge when tipsy. If not drinking makes you feel socially awkward, try sipping soda water with a squeeze of lime. Looks like a drink and you’re still holding something.
- Dessert. Have a small slice of pie or whatnot. If you’ve kept it in check the whole feast there’s no reason you can’t savor dessert. Bonus points if you brought it and it’s a healthier version!
The whole point of the holidays is to spend it with loved ones and to enjoy yourself, eating like crap doesn’t have to be a part of the festivities.