Photo: Wrapped presents

by Sabra Leomo, RD

‘Tis the season for holiday parties which usually include seasonal treats. With all of the extra treats, the average American gains one pound over the holiday season. This may not seem like much, but considering that most Americans don’t ever lose that pound, it can add up over the years. Healthy eating habits don’t have to be put to the side this holiday season. Here are 10 easy tips to make holiday parties healthier.

  • Don’t skip meals or “save” calories for the party - Limiting food the day of a party and showing up to a party ravenous can lead to overeating later. Instead, eat small sensible meals and snacks throughout the day to help curb hunger later on.
  • Bring a healthy dish to the party – At least you know there will be one healthy option. Other health conscious party-goers will be thankful for your dish as well. Down to Earth has hundreds of recipes to try this holiday season. This Cranberry Kale Salad is healthy and delicious. It is topped with a savory pecan “parmesan” that is sure to be a hit.
  • Prioritize your food choices - Scope out the food table before you start adding to your plate so you know which foods are “must-haves” and which ones you will skip.
  • Little omissions - Not adding whipped cream to your pie or not eating the crust can cut around 100 calories.
  • Watch portion sizes - If you want to have stuffing, mashed potatoes and a roll, have a smaller amount of each item. Using a smaller plate can also be helpful to decrease portion sizes.
  • Avoid sugary drinks - They just add calories and don’t contribute to satiety, which makes you feel full and satisfied. Water and other un-sweetened beverages are the healthiest options.
  • Socialize away from the food table - Avoid the temptation to mindlessly nibble while you chat with people.
  • Wait 10-15 minutes before you go back for seconds - Take time to evaluate if you are really still hungry before hitting the buffet table again.
  • Slow down and enjoy your food - Take a moment to observe your food, savor each bite and try putting your fork down between bites. Many holiday foods are only eaten during this special season so take time to enjoy!
  • Stay physically active - Physical activity not only burns those extra calories but is also a great holiday stress buster.

A little preparation and mindfulness when partying can help you have a happy holiday season while keeping the extra pounds away.