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10 Tips for Making Healthy Choices Over the Holidays

Sadie Holloway loves researching and writing about simple ways to live a healthier lifestyle.

Holiday Eating With Health in Mind

Here are 10 clever tips and tricks for healthier holiday eating. Use them at your next holiday party or when you're just relaxing at home with loved ones.

Let's learn how to handle the holidays on a caloric budget.

Let's learn how to handle the holidays on a caloric budget.

1. Not sure if that appetizer or dessert square is full of fat? Let the treat sit on a paper cocktail napkin for a few minutes. If the napkin shows splotches and oily stains, you might want to skip it (or at least cut back on how many of them you eat).

2. To feel more satisfied at your next Christmas cocktail party, don't stand while you eat. Standing while you eat from a plate of food doesn’t feel quite as filling as eating while seated. Sitting while you eat will make the experience feel more like a light, satisfying meal. If you’re seated when eating, you’ll naturally take more mindful bites. If you’re juggling an awkward plate of food, you might be tempted to eat quickly to ease up on your tired wrists.

3. Eat slowly and thoughtfully. Mindfully chewing and swallowing your food will help you eat less because your stomach will have time to tell your brain that you’ve had enough.

4. Buy nuts whole, in the shell. Having to split a pistachio open takes more work than grabbing a handful of shelled nuts and popping them casually into your mouth. Anything tricks that help you slow down while you eat can also help you slim down!

5. Fill half your glass with low-fat milk and then top it up with eggnog. This will reduce your drink's fat and sugar content without sacrificing the yummy taste of this once-a-year holiday treat. Once you start drinking your eggnog this way, you won’t even notice the difference!

Healthy choices don't have to be boring

Healthy choices don't have to be boring

6. Stuff your stuffing with healthy goodness. I’ll admit that I'm a fool for turkey stuffing. It’s my favorite holiday dish and I can’t imagine giving it up in order to cut back on fat and calories. That’s why I really like the idea of replacing half of the bread in your stuffing recipe with sliced mushrooms, celery, onions, and carrots. By adding extra veggies to your stuffing, you’ll get more fiber and fewer calories.

7. Don’t be afraid to say, “Thank you, that’s plenty for me!” when the turkey is being carved and served. I grew up in a household where meals were served family-style. Things like roasts and poultry were carved and served by my father at the head of the table. Being a generous man who wanted to make sure his family was well fed, he often went overboard loading our plates up with turkey and gravy at Christmas dinner. It may be hard to say 'no thank you' to a family member’s jovial generosity, but you’ll be glad you did when the holidays are over and everyone else is complaining about how much weight they gained!

8. If eating everything on your plate will push your meal over the edge, don't be afraid to leave a few leftover scraps on the side of your plate. Sometimes leaving leftovers can’t be helped, especially when you can’t pull apart the item before you put it on your plate. For example, you can’t ask for a “piece of pumpkin pie, hold the crust, please!” without sounding a little silly. But once that piece of pie is on your plate, it’s OK to eat the filling and leave (most of) the crust. (If you can leave the whole crust, well, then, I salute you!) Just by skipping the crusty edge of a piece of pie, you can up to 200 calories and 8 grams of fat!

9. Before you get into the Christmas party buffet line-up, take a slow, careful look at all the dishes and treats being served. Then make a quick mental note of the items that you absolutely don’t want to skip. Everyone has their favorite food item on the buffet and it’s OK to treat yourself to something you like as long as it is in moderation. By scoping out the buffet ahead of time, you’ll be able to plan which foods to put on your plate first so that your meal is balanced, healthy, and satisfying.

10. Don't show up to the party on an empty stomach. Have a light meal or snack before the party so that you don’t arrive with a huge appetite. A light salad, veggies and hummus (high in fiber!), or a bowl of cereal and yogurt are satisfying pre-dinner snacks that will take the edge off your hunger.

Give yourself the gift of good health this Christmas by making smart food choices over the holidays

Give yourself the gift of good health this Christmas by making smart food choices over the holidays

For further reading, check out:

Healthy eating tips: Do Eat Healthier Over the Holidays, Chatelaine Magazine, December 2014

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2016 Sadie Holloway