Once Fall weather rolls in, it means having to navigate a season’s worth of holidays typically based on one thing — eating. It all starts with pumpkin-flavored baked goodies, moves on to bite-size chocolate morsels, then to an entire day devoted to preparing, cooking, and eating a day’s worth of calories in one sitting. Then comes December with crispy latkes and those adorably shaped, irresistible iced sugar cookies and more eating. Then, of course, there’s the final holiday devoted to sipping cocktails and Champagne. Before trading in your jeans for some fancy, stretchy yoga leggings, certified dietitian Leslie Langevin, MS, RD, CD of Whole Health Nutrition has five tips to help you enjoy the holidays without expanding your waistline.
1. Save Room For Dessert
A slice of warm apple-coconut crumb pie with ice cream, those signature peanut butter kiss cookies, a classic cup of creamy eggnog — there are so many amazing desserts to look forward to this time of year. If you know this is something you really want eat (who doesn’t?!), take a smaller portion of your main meal by using a smaller plate. This way you can save room in your tummy for this delicious extra.
2. Aim For Color
Fill your plate with vibrantly colored options to help reduce your caloric intake. For appetizers, choose veggies over crunchy carbohydrate choices and seek out dips that are veggie- instead of cream-based. For meals, go for cranberry sauce instead of gravy, roasted sweet potatoes over buttery mashed potatoes, a salad over green bean casserole or loaded stuffing, and if bread is a must, go for whole grain. This helps boost phytonutrient intake and also keeps calories lighter.
3. Ask This Question
“Am I hungry?” This is the question you should ask yourself every time you grab something to eat. Listen to your own body’s signals and make sure you’re aware of and truly hungry for each bite you’re reaching for. This will challenge your willpower immensely, since holiday get togethers always involve bowls and platters of nibbles. Remember that you don’t have to join in just because other people are noshing. Focus on the amazing conversations and the people you’re with, and eat when your body is ready, not when food is served.
4. Go Lighter Earlier
On the actual holiday, you know an obscenely enormous meal is on the horizon. No need to skip breakfast and lunch — that will screw up your metabolism and make you so famished, you’ll end up devouring even more. Just eat lighter in the beginning of your day, so you’ll be hungry for that larger meal. A green smoothie for breakfast and a salad for lunch is perfect.
5. Celebrate and Be Done
The actual holidays are one or two days long, so you should give yourself permission to indulge on those days. Giving into your cravings will allow you to move on, so you’re not obsessing about it the entire season. Just remember not to let one day of overindulging lead to weeks of too much. Enjoy the amazing food, then start eating healthy the following day.