Enjoy guilt-free holiday parties this season

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 16, 2015

“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Everywhere you go.” (By Johnny Mathis) This is one of my favorite Christmas songs I love to hear this time of year. It really puts me in a happy mood as we go from party to party enjoying the festivities with friends and family.

However, if you are worried that enjoying a traditional holiday meal and party foods will destroy healthful food habits you have nurtured all year….then worry no more! The good news is any foods, even beloved holiday dishes, can fit into a healthful eating plan with practice and planning.

For starters, trying to lose weight during the holidays may be a self-defeating goal. Instead of trying to shed pounds, strive to maintain your current weight.

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Party Pregame

Prepare small, lower-calorie meals during the day so you can eat celebration foods without overdoing your calorie intake for the day. Enjoy a small, low-calorie snack such as fruit or whole-grain toast before you head out the door to curb hunger and avoid overeating at the party.

If you’re bringing a dish, make it healthfully delicious and low-calorie. Vegetables with a yogurt or cottage cheese dip, fresh fruit or whole-grain pasta salad are sure to be crowd pleasers.


Upon Arrival

Remember, conversation is calorie-free, and you may eat less if you settle into the festivities instead of heading straight to the buffet. Ask for sparkling water and lime, which doesn’t supply calories, and start mingling.

Wondering how to build a healthful plate at the buffet? Start by making just one trip and choose the foods you really want to eat. Try filling half your plate with lower-calorie party foods like fruits and vegetables. Sometimes, just a taste satisfies a craving or curiosity, so keep portions small.


Post-time Activity

Balance “party calories” with more physical activity. Even though it may be cold outside, these everyday activities can take only 10 minutes at a time, and will help you get moving during the holidays.

• Dance to your favorite holiday music.

• Play actively with your children, grandchildren or pets.

• After dinner, take a walk with your family — even if it’s just around the block.

• Catch up with housework: wash the windows, vacuum or sweep.

• Park further out in the parking lot and then walk in to the store.

• Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator.

• And if you work, walk to your coworker’s office instead of emailing them.

For help staying active and sticking to a healthful eating plan during the holidays and beyond, consult a registered dietitian nutritionist in your area. Resource: Eat Right

The following are some quick red and green fruit/vegetable combos to include in keeping with the Healthy Red and Green Christmas Holiday theme:

• Red and green apple slices surrounding your favorite fruit dip like a wreath

• Cole slaw with red apple chunks

• Cole slaw with cherry tomato or grape tomato halves

• Tomato soup garnished just before serving with a sprinkle of green onion stems, sliced into small rings

• Small sprigs of red and green grapes used as an edible garnish around a holiday meat platter

• Peas garnished with bits of red pimento

• Juicy pomegranate seeds tossed atop a green salad

• Pizza with tomato sauce topping and chopped green peppers.

Source: National Cancer Institute

We hope you have a joyous Christmas and a Happy New Year!