A nutritionist tells you how to celebrate without eating too much at holiday parties.
Healthy eating can get lost in the festivities during family holidays. When attending parties, hosting get-togethers or having a festive dinner it's hard to keep from overindulging and packing on extra holiday pounds. CanadianLiving.com asked Toronto-based registered nutritionist Julie Mancuso for tips on how to avoid the holiday bulge.
1. Eat the veggies and the low-fat cheese on the party platter
Eating healthy all year will make an impact on your eating habits come party season. Eat veggies, protein and low-fat meals and try to avoid sugar. Your body won't crave sweets as much if you're eating healthy, so you'll be less tempted to pick up that cheesecake.
2. Do a pre-party workout
Not only will you feel better (and look slender in your cocktail dress), but your body will be craving healthy food options rather than a sugar-coated cookie if you sweat it out pre-party. "Your metabolic rate will also be higher," adds Mancuso, "which will help you digest food better and burn the calories faster."
3. Eat before you go out
Never head into any kind of party on an empty stomach! You will end up eating far more than you actually need, or even really want. Mancuso suggests having a protein-rich snack, such as a handful of nuts, plain yogurt with fruit or a few crackers with cheese. This kind of snack will boost your metabolism and keep you feeling full longer.
4. Use a small plate
"This will really help you eat less food," explains Mancuso. A smaller plate piled high with veggies and healthy meats will give your eyes the impression that you are having a feast. Don't have a small plate? Try using a napkin – you will only be able to fit enough food into the palm of your hand, ideal when you hit the sweets table!
5. Fill up on fibre and protein
"Before even looking at the dessert table, have a plate of protein-rich foods and foods that are high in fibre. Salads, vegetables and lean meats will be your best options," advises Mancuso. "Try to limit or avoid refined breads and pastas and choose nuts and whole grains for fibre intake." Both fibre and protein will give you a full feeling, keeping your desserts to a nibble or two.
6. Take it slow
Pace yourself when you're eating at a party. Taking small bites and fully chewing food helps you digest it better and control your portion sizes. Plus you need time to realize when you're full. "It takes 20 minutes to feel satiated, so give it some time before you dig in for seconds," says Mancuso.
7. Have dessert for two
Is there something that your sweet tooth just can't pass up? It's fine to indulge, but remember, it's all about moderation. So dig into that cake or cookie, but do it with a friend so you only have half the calories.
8. Cocktail or cake?
Chances are, there will be plenty of bubbly, not to mention desserts, at holiday parties. To keep slim, choose one or the other and limit yourself to one drink or one sweet. Your body will thank you for it the next day.
9. Eat up before you drink
Alcohol not only decreases your inhibitions, it also causes food cravings. "For every alcoholic beverage, follow it with a glass of water to keep hydrated," advises Mancuso. If you are going to imbibe, she adds, "opt for dry red wine or vodka and soda as these drinks tend to be more generous to your waistline."
10. Plan ahead if you know you always eat too much
If you know that you usually eat a little too much when attending a party, then plan ahead. On the day of a party, try to eat less throughout the day so that if you overdo it at night, your calories will balance out. "If you overate at a party, eat less and opt for healthier options the next day to even out your calorie intake, says Mancuso. "Indulging once a week won’t be detrimental to your weight-loss goals, but if it continues for more than two days, the pounds will start creeping on."