Holiday Eating Tips

Use these simple holiday eating tips and healthy holiday eating suggestions to help avoid paying on the scale in January.

Holiday Eating Tips:
Eating Healthy During Holiday
Cocktail Parties

Bring something you know if "safe" to eat. Offer to bring a tossed salad, low calorie appetizer, or low calorie dessert. That way, you'll have at least one healthy dish you can eat while you're there.

Eat before you go to the party. The worst thing you can do if you're trying to watch your weight is arrive at a party hungry. You'll be in better control of your choices and will likely avoid eating too much of the wrong thing if you're not very hungry to begin with.

Keep your back to the food table. The sight of food is a trigger to eat, even when you're not hungry. Out of sight, out of mind.

Put everything you plan to eat on one small plate. Then nurse that plate for the evening. Avoid eating directly from the buffet table. It's too easy to lose track of how much you've eaten when you graze.

Keep a calorie free beverage in your hand. When "empty handed," you'll likely be encouraged to have a cocktail. No one has to know you have diet coke in your glass vs. rum and coke!

Manage alcohol:

  • Alternate drinking alcoholic beverages with water, club soda, or diet soda. You'll decrease your calories from alcohol by 50% that way.
  • Ask for low calorie / diet mixers when possible.

Holiday Eating Tips: Get to know the calories in alcohol:

Focus on conversation. Keep in mind a holiday party is a people event with food present...NOT a food event with people present.

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Holiday Eating Tips:
Managing Holiday Food

Know this. One food won't make or break you. There are no bad foods...only bad patterns.

The holidays make controlling weight difficult because they're a time when it's easy to fall into a pattern of eating and drinking more than usual. Indulging in high calorie foods day after day and week after week is a bad habit to get into.

Try this. Make a list of all the foods you can't live without during the holiday season.

That is, make a list of the foods that define the holidays for you.

It may look something like mine:

  • eggnog
  • pumpkin pie
  • candy canes
  • mother's homemade fudge

I'm a dietitian and I have special holiday foods I like to eat too.

Sure, there are many more holiday foods I'd love to eat, but this handful of foods are the ones I associate with holiday eating.

I feel like I'd be missing something if I didn't allow myself these foods during November and December every year.

So I allow myself these foods, but I implement "rules" about how I eat them. You can do the same too!

Once you've made the list of holiday foods you can't live without, decide how much and how often you'll indulge in each one of them.

Eating healthy during holiday times IS possible...when you have a plan!

For Example:

Eggnog: 1 glass on Christmas Eve OR on Christmas Day (not both), and 1 glass at each of 3 parties I attend.
Pumpkin Pie: 1 slice at Thanksgiving, and something "pumpkin related" one time per week from Thanksgiving to Christmas.
Candy Canes: 1 on Christmas Day.
Mother's Homemade Fudge: 2 small squares on New Year's Eve.

Holiday Eating Tips: By making up "rules" (and living by them) about how much and how often you eat "indulgent foods," you're learning to eat intentionally, not haphazardly.

When you allow yourself to eat whatever you want, whenever you want, you can expect to gain weight!

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Holiday Eating Tips: Modify Recipes

Low calorie and lowfat holiday eating is easy if you make simple recipe modifications in baking and cooking:

Instead of

Instead of Use Calories Saved Fat Grams Saved
Sugar, 1 cup Splenda*, 1cup 675 0
Cream, half-n-half, 1 cup Fat free half-n-half, 1 cup 150 28
Evaporated milk, 1 cup Evaporated skim milk, 1 cup 140 18
Whole Milk, 1 cup Skim milk, 1 cup 50 8
Sour cream, 1 oz. Nonfat sour cream, 1 oz. 45 5
Butter, 2 Tablespoons Trans-fat-free margarine, 1 Tablespoon 55 6.5
Egg, 1 2 egg whites or 1/4 cup egg substitute 55 6
Whipped cream, 2 Tablespoons Fat-free whipped cream, 2 Tablespoons 40 5
Cream cheese, 1 oz. Light cream cheese, 1 oz. 31 5
Fruit pie with top and bottom crust, 1/8 pie Fruit pie with bottom crust only, 1/8 pie 110 7

* Note: Splenda works best in recipes where sugar is used primarily to sweeten, such as pies, cheesecake, cookies, quick breads, muffins, sweet sauces, marinades, and glaze.

It doesn't work well for cakes or pastry where the sugar is needed for structure of the finished product. Use Splenda Sugar Blend (half the calories of sugar) to help baked goods brown, rise, and retain moistness more like those made with sugar.

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Holiday Eating Tips:
Manage Holiday Stress Eating

As mentioned previously, one food won't make or break you. Neither will one meal or one day (of bad eating).


...a pattern of eating the wrong foods...and lots of them...because you're stressed out... a bad, bad pattern and inevitable leads to weight gain.

If your holiday stress eating includes rich, high calorie foods, day after day, week after week, you're going to pay a heavy price on that scale come Jan 1!

Holiday Eating Tips:
Healthy Holiday Eating Suggestions to Combat Holiday Stress Eating

Avoid getting overly hungry. A bad decision and a big portion almost always "happen" when you're starving.

Eat regular, balanced meals and snacks every 3-4 hours. This will keep your blood sugar level stable and prevent you from eating impulsively. As I always with intention...not out of reaction.

Carry healthy snacks with you. If you're going to be away from home doing holiday shopping, etc., for more than 3 hours, make sure you carry something to eat and be sure to stop to eat it!

Holiday Eating Tips: Get Plenty of Sleep. Believe it or not, you're more likely to eat more when you don't get enough sleep.

All of the chemistry that regulates hunger and appetite is "out of whack" when you don't get sufficient zzzzzz's and you'll feel physically hungrier.

Shop for Groceries Once a Week. You can't eat properly if your kitchen isn't stocked with the right foods.

Make it a priority to take care of yourself and stock your refrigerator with healthy foods so when the urge to eat strikes, you have healthy choices at your fingertips.

See my Healthy Quick Meal Ideas

Keep a food diary. It will keep you accountable for what you're putting in your mouth and improve your chance of eating healthy during holiday season.

Select from a list of free printable food diary forms.

Weigh yourself once a week. Use this numberless scale! It's easy to catch 1 or 2 pounds before they become 10 or 20 pounds.

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I hope these holiday eating tips help you enjoy healthy holiday food and a stress free holiday season.


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