Most of the following suggestions and tips would probably be part of a New Year’s Resolution. If you decide, however, to implement them now, even just a few of them, you will probably avoid some weight gain during the next four weeks, feel a bit more in control of your diet and your health, and certainly feel happier that your clothes are still fitting and you're not facing additional pounds come, January 1. Your health and waistline will thank you for the effort, and you will also feel empowered (and happy) knowing that habit changes can occur even in the face of many temptations!!
The Basics Again
- Use smaller “everything” – smaller plates, bowls, tall skinny glasses, smaller utensils, and smaller serving spoons.
- Pace your eating, cut food into smaller pieces, chew more, talk more, and help serve others and clear between courses so you slow your own speed of eating.
- Make vegetables and fruit your primary choices and then take small spoonfuls of the special dishes.
- Move away from the buffet, bring a healthy dish to a party, and pick and choose your treats wisely.
- Don’t go to the event hungry, dilute alcoholic beverages, and drink lots of water between courses.
- Give away high calorie leftovers, use recipe swap out guides to reduce fat, salt and sugar in recipes.
- Never abandon exercise – do some activity even if it’s a modified version due to travel or time constraints.
- If you are entertaining, dim the lights and play soft music. Also consider serving on red plates. These tips have all been shown to curb or slow eating.
Some Specific Lighter and Healthier Cooking Ideas
- If it’s a bread appetizer, make it bite-size, which will help with portion control
- Use whole, unrefined grains as a base ingredient for appetizers and side dishes
- If it’s a dip, reduce the cream by using Greek yogurt or pureed tofu, or add beans or vegetables
- Try flavored vinegars, fresh squeezed citrus juice and herbs to cut the fat
- Get creative with vegetable dishes – fill peppers, roast root vegetables, do a quick stir fry, bake potatoes and then scoop out the center, puree and season and re-stuff the skins.
- Cream-up cauliflower or butternut squash, instead of serving traditional mashed potatoes.
- Use high protein grains like quinoa in side dish recipes
- Melt chocolate and have fruit dips for dessert; use fruit and nuts in baked goods to add a boost of nutrients
Avoiding Food Triggers
- Drinking too much alcohol can instigate overeating because your hunger and fullness signals become blunted.
- Emotional upheaval, thanks to the stress of hosting family and friends, or never-ending entertaining can instigate emotional eating. Be aware and handle feelings without turning to food.
- Handle stress by exercising or journaling your feelings
- Constantly tasting food that you are cooking and preparing, eating leftovers off plates as you clean up, taking tastes as you wrap up leftovers all add up to loads of extra calories. Be aware!
Remember that the focus of the holidays is seeing family and friends, celebrating what you do have, and the joy of giving. Make food a part of the celebration and not the entire focus of the holiday experience.