holiday buffet feature

Eat smart for the holidays

December 19, 2013 Denise Pinkney

Frosted cut-out sugar cookies. Green bean casserole. Homemade fudge. With an abundance of delicious foods at holiday gatherings and office parties, it's hard not to overeat.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota Wellness Services Team Leader Lori Howard offers six strategies to help you keep on track at those special events during the holidays. She is a licensed, registered dietitian.

  1. Do not skip meals the day of the event. Have a lighter lunch if you plan to go to an evening celebration to prevent eating too much. What's more, eat a small snack before the event so you are not tempted to overload your plate.
  2. Once you're at the event, gaze the food table. Take time to target the healthier dishes, fruits and vegetables. Mentally plan your food selections.
  3. Keep your portions in check. Take small portions. 
  4. Make a maze with your plate by not allowing your foods to touch. Leave enough space between foods to run your pinky finger through the maze. Place the foods inside the dinner plate's inner rim.
  5. If you are attending a potluck, bring a healthy dish so you can help control the offerings at the celebration.
  6. Carry conversation away from food tables so you aren't tempted to snack.

In addition to holiday gatherings, the holidays are a time for many to bake family favorites. Lori shares how you can lower the calorie and fat content in your offerings by substituting ingredients:

  • Use light cheese and cream cheese instead of full-fat versions.
  • Use applesauce in place of oil, butter or margarine in quick breads.
  • Use fat-free yogurt or sour cream when preparing dips and sauces. Use fat-free whipped toppings instead of the full-fat version.
  • Use low sodium or lower fat cream soups (mushroom, celery or chicken) when making hot dishes
  • Replace fried onions in the green bean hot dish with sliced almonds. The nuts provide a crunchy texture and are a source of healthy fats.

And if you feel you've overeaten, don't despair. Getting extra physical activity can help with holiday weight gain. Try these simple suggestions to help you become more active.

  • Park your car at the end of the row, when shopping or at work.
  • Stand more. For example, wrap your gifts standing.
  • Take a walking break at work.
  • Use a restroom on the other side of the building at work or on a different floor at home.
  • If you are pressed for time and can't fit in workouts, plan multiple five-minutes of any kind of activity during the day such as walking, dancing or marching.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevators.