As if holiday foods were not enough to encourage weight gain, think about having unlimited access to these foods at a buffet. When there is no monetary reason for having a smaller portion, the flood gates open up and you fill your plate to the brim, with not an inch available for another bite.We spoke with Stacey Morgenstern and Carey Peters, healthy living experts and founders of the Health Coach Institute, about healthy holiday tips to prevent you from overdoing it when the buffet is tempting you. Before you head to the party, make sure that you are mentally prepared.
“Rich, creamy cheeses that are often featured on the holiday cheese plate typically are laden with fat and high in cholesterol,” said Morgenstern Peters. “Add to that the crackers and breads that you use as a base and you’ve consumed almost an entire meal’s worth of calories in a few bites! If you have to indulge, try to limit yourself to one bite, but top a piece of fruit like a sliced apple or vegetable like a cucumber round instead.”
“More often found at the kids table, these chocolate treats are packed with sugar and will guarantee a kiddie-crash later,” they said. “Try to limit consumption to one piece, or make a sweet bargain. A pudding-like mixture of whipped avocado and cacao gives the same chocolate-fix with some added health benefits.”
“Basted, often butter-covered, skin-on a turkey can taste pretty good, but when it’s covering the already higher in calories dark-meat turkey, it can be a less than healthy choice,” they said. “Try to stick to skinless white meat portions, or at the very least take off the skin, which cuts the calorie count significantly.”
“A Holiday staple, eggnog is seriously delicious,” they said. “But it comes with a hefty amount of calories and saturated fat — around 280 calories and nine grams of fat, to be more precise. If you want a festive treat, opt for a white wine spritzer or a festive vodka soda with a splash of cranberry to get you in the holiday spirit.”
“This is a no brainer: Avoid anything on the table that has been deep fried,” they said. “Chicken fingers, coconut shrimp, and other foods that have been dredged in breading and cooked in oil are never going to be good for your heart, body, or waistline. If you’re after a little crunch, seek out options that are lightly coated in gluten-free breadcrumbs and baked instead.”
“A small portion of nuts can be a smart way to grab protein on the go, but when they’re out at a cocktail party you may find yourself having five times the recommended serving without even realizing,” they said. “Because the nuts are high in fat and calories, these little snacks can add up quickly. Try to be mindful while you’re at a party, and avoid snacking just to fill time. Instead, seek out a friend to talk with.”
“Processed meats have been getting a lot of buzz lately due to their unhealthy and potentially cancer-causing characteristics,” they said. “Add to that the fact that these snacks are often high in salt and fat and you’ll find more than one reason to stay away! If you’re craving a manly meaty snack, stick to a piece of lean and preferably grilled meat instead. It will have double the flavor with less of the sodium.”