Naughty or Nice? 5 Tips for Navigating Holiday Meals

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As Santa picks out who’s naughty and who’s nice, we can do the same with our food… What’s naughty and what’s nice to eat at your next holiday party or meal? This dilemma seems to lurk around the holidays. Most of us, however, seem to let go and save the better decision making for January 2.

I experience it myself, you want to be “nice” but you get enticed by delicious “naughty” holiday offerings. Last week it started…. munching those holiday cookies my husband brings home because his patients love him (thanks a lot!) or the gooey rich meal I make for my kids when they get home from college.

It’s hard to resist those temptations, and often just a “taste” spirals into the new-normal eating patterns that last an entire month.

Should you avoid all of these wonderful foods? My straightforward answer is NO. Your relationship with food should be filled with great memories, good times, and a “slice” of life’s experiences. The indulgences, however, should be kept for special moments and enjoyed, and like everything in life should be consumed mindfully.

Here are my 5 tips for ease in still eating the foods you love, without feeling the “guilt” during the holiday season:

  1. Don’t deny yourself, just prioritize what you love and set limits.

I try to plan before a party or dinner the foods that I really want, and make choices to keep everything in check. Here are some of my tricks:

At a holiday party, scope what is there, and pick the 3-4 foods you really want to have, and be mindful of your portions.

Want the glass of wine? Skip the bread. Be mindful of how much you drink, as the calories add up.

Want dessert? Have a taste of your absolute favorites or share.

  1. Control the creamed sauces, ultra cheesy dishes, gravies, and dressings, and BYO favorites!

Creamy sauces, gravies, and dressings can be up to 100 added calories per tablespoon. Best to ask for these extras on the side and manage the portion on your own.

Consider asking your host if you can bring a dish. If he or she agrees, make something healthy. My personal favorites to bring to a party are:

  • Shrimp cocktail with cocktail sauce
  • Roasted or fresh vegetable platter with hummus
  • Deviled eggs
  • Make your own creamy dips with Greek plain yogurt instead of sour cream.
  • Use sharp cheddar for “melted” dishes, and use ½ the amount. Sharp cheddar adds tremendous flavor.
  • Make or bring dessert “mini” muffins, squares, cupcakes and cookies to ensure portion control.
  • Create a fresh berry bowl with shavings of coconut and mini-dark chocolate chips. healthy holiday eating
  1. Eat before and wet your appetite.

Have a protein and/or fiber filled snack (100-200 cal.) before you go to your event. This will help you reduce your cravings and resist the urge to eat everything in sight. Also, have 1-2 glasses of water before you go. Here are some of my go-to snacks:

  • ½ apple with 1-tablespoon nut butter
  • ½ protein smoothie shake (10 g protein)
  • ¼ cup mashed avocado with hot sauce and lime with a few celery sticks
  • ½ cup plain Greek yogurt with 2 Tablespoons of  berries
  1. Wear clothes that fit you perfectly!

We all like to be comfortable, but wearing loose-fitting outfits can actually affect the amount you eat! If you feel the need to unbutton those pants because you are uncomfortable, you probably have had enough to eat.

  1. Use the right-sized plate.

We have a tendency to overload our plates with food and then feel obligated to finish it all. Choose smaller plates or bowls that allow you to fill them up and give you a satisfying portion.healthy holiday eating





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