So, you want to stick to your healthy eating commitment for the holidays? How noble.
Let’s face it, you’re only human. You’d love to dig in to a satisfying, indulging, celebration worthy dish or two. If it means kissing your skinny jeans goodbye until March, so be it. Several times between now and January first, you’ll lose yourself somewhere deep into a hors d’oeuvres table. Your co-workers will find you face down in the chocolate fountain at the company party. You know the scene. You’ve been there once…or twice.
Fear not! Here are a few tricks and tips to keep it healthy (but not deprived…there are no masochists at Kindred-Kitchen) and some of my favorite holiday recipes to get you in the spirit (and keep you in your skinny jeans).
1. So, here’s one (oft mentioned) tip you’ll hear from lots of health and weight loss experts (that you won’t hear from me): “Eat before you go to a party”. Here’s the thing, for many of us who struggle with weight and healthy eating, it’s not just about the actual food. Sure, who doesn’t love those mini quiches or anything served in a puff pastry? But for people who turn to food as a coping mechanism, being in room full of people (most of whom are likely strangers), there’s something that just seems more friendly about the brie and bread than that group of girls tossing their heads and laughing in the corner. It simply won’t matter if you’ve had a 4-course meal before the party. As soon as you feel those pangs of anxiety, you’ll head straight for your friend meatball before you even remove your coat. So, if you’re the kind of person for whom a meal before a party doesn’t deter you from eating your face off at the party, best to steer clear of eating too much before the par-tay. (Just don’t make the mistake of arriving starving, either….tricky, right?).
So, here’s my advice. Instead of eating anything substantial before the party, have a big glass of water (or two). If you’re really hungry, have a piece of fruit, a handful of nuts, or some other healthy grab-and-go snack. When you arrive at the shindig, take a deep breath. Fight the urge to immediately scan the room for the food and bar. Instead, seek out someone you know and kick off the evening with a little conversation. When you’re feeling ready, wander over to the snacks and select a couple of irresistible treats you can’t say no to and make your other choices healthy. I’m a big proponent of indulging in just a couple of things that are special during this time of the year. Instead of wasting time with the things you have access to all year (I’m talking to you cheese & crackers), reach for the things you most look forward to around the holidays. Set a limit for yourself before you even approach the table, choose the smallest plate you can, and, once you’ve made your choices, walk as far away from the food spread as you can. Go find someone to chat up, and take your time nibbling.
2. Skip the spiked eggnog and seasonal cocktails. Instead, resurrect the wine spritzer. I know, when’s the last time you even pondered this cocktail bastion of the 80’s? If you plan on having a few libations during the holidays (you know, to make family time a little less…well…family time), this will be the one piece of advise that I know you’ll thank me for later. Here’s what I love about a spritzer: it’s the best way to enjoy more than one glass of wine, for a fraction of the calories (and hangover). This simple blend of wine and seltzer (and maybe a strawberry or few cranberries) is sure to put you in the holiday spirit without the potential regret later.
3. Volunteer to bring a side, appetizer or dessert to holiday gatherings. Better yet, host them! This will ensure that you have healthy (delicious) things to eat. It’s totally ok to add a couple of indulgent treats to the mix, since most of the offerings will be on the lighter side. Here are some recipes for inspiration:
Happy (healthy) holidays to YOU!