Eat Smart through the Holidays

Two of the major issues that we all face are weight gain and resisting temptation. With so many parties, get-togethers, and family gatherings during the holidays, food seems to be the primary glue that connects these activities. It is hard to imagine a gathering without cheese, wine, and tantalizing pastries of all kinds. It is also hard to imagine a family gathering without heavy meat dishes, old traditions of family casseroles, and rich desserts. 

It is sometimes difficult to resist the pressure to eat these “special” dishes so that no family member will be offended. It is at these holiday times that old tastes and preferences surface along with a compelling need to feel emotionally satisfied with these nurturing family traditions – whether they are healthy or not.

So, how do you break out of this emotional cycle and not be seduced by unhealthy choices?

Here are some tips that should help you get through the holidays, avoid gaining weight, and feel good about your ability to make healthy choices:

  1. Eat before the party or gathering. Don’t go to the party hungry or famished. Eat a piece of fruit and some cheese or a hard-boiled egg or several deli turkey slices before you attend the event. This should take the edge off of your hunger and, hopefully, give you better control of your eating.
  2. Scope out the food options. Look over all of the food choices so that you can make note of what you can eat. Then fill your plate with the most healthful choices and don’t feel deprived.
  3. Choose only the hors d’oeuvres that are the most healthful. If there are any fresh vegetables available, mix in-between the hors d’oeuvres.
  4. Encourage family potluck gatherings so that you can bring some healthy dishes.
  5. If you are on a special diet and won’t be able to eat beforehand, bring some of your own food and complement your meal with the dishes that you can eat.
  6. If you are at a sit-down dinner with friends or co-workers and you don’t have control over the menu or food offerings, just eat a few bites of the foods you don’t want to eat and, of course, enjoy to the fullest extent those that make you feel healthy and satisfied.
  7. At family gatherings, prepare some “old favorites” in new, more healthful ways. For example, instead of preparing yams with marshmallows, orange juice, and brown sugar, add just a touch of butter and honey. Yams are naturally sweet and do not require much sweetener. 
  8. Most of all, enjoy the company and don’t make the food the only reason that you are attending or organizing the gathering.