6 Easy Strategies to Get You through the Holiday Season

Posted on Thursday, December 3rd, 2009
Written by: Angela, Nutritionist

Bellevue Nutritionist, Angela Pifer, writes: Worried about the effects of the holidays on your waistline? Here are 6 tried and true quick tip strategies that I recommend in my practice that will help your waistline love the holidays as much as you do.

1. Offer to bring a healthy dish to holiday parties

If you’re concerned about the unhealthy array of foods that are bound to be served at an upcoming function, call ahead and ask the host if you can bring a healthy dish. Chances are the host will be happy to have some help with the overwhelming task of pleasing a hungry crowd!

For appetizers, you could bring a vegetable platter with low-fat dip; a colorful fruit platter with a dip made from nonfat yogurt, whole wheat pita triangles served with hummus; or baked tortilla chips with chunky salsa and/or fat-free refried bean dip.

2. Don’t “hang out” at the appetizer table when socializing at a party

It’s hard to believe how much those small handfuls of munchies add up at a party. I observed a stranger’s eating habits while socializing at a holiday party to see what kind of calories we’re capable of consuming before the holiday meal. The following appetizers were consumed in the two hours before the meal (see if you can guess how many calories this added up to):

4 rye crackers with about 1/2 ounce of soft cheese

3 bunches of grapes

3 handfuls of mixed nuts

2 glasses of wine

1 handful M&Ms with nuts

2 pieces broccoli with about 1 Tbsp cream cheese dip

Total: 1,209 calories, 60 g fat, 28 g protein, 110 g carbohydrate

This adds up, especially when you consider these totals make up more than half the total daily calories needed by the average active person. People who socialize away from the appetizer tables were less apt to subconsciously pick at the food. Instead, they will usually fill one small plate of food and then called it quits. Make a conscious effort to position yourself away from the hors d’oeuvres at a holiday function.

3. Try recipe modification

Many people worry about a cooking disaster when preparing a large meal during the holidays and therefore don’t want to experiment with new ingredients. But often times these new ingredients enhance both the nutritional value and the flavor of the dish.

For example, I prepared a batch of muffins using a traditional recipe with oil and another batch substituting applesauce for the oil (1:1 replacement ratio). Of course the recipe modification enhanced the nutritional value of the muffins, but the tasters actually rated the flavor and overall satisfaction of the modified muffin recipe higher than the traditional recipe.

Making modifications of your favorite recipes can make the dish healthier, and perhaps even tastier. To avoid a potential cooking disaster, you can always practice the modified recipe before the big day.

4. Beware of liquid calories, especially alcohol

Alcohol actually contains almost as many calories per gram as fat (seven calories vs. nine calories per gram, respectively). Alcohol also tends to lower our inhibitions, which means you’ll be less careful about what and how much we indulge at the party. So instead of reaching for the bubbly, rotate a non-caloric drink like diet soda, water or spritzer into the mix. That way you’ll be able to allocate more of your calorie budget on the delicious holiday foods you enjoy. The following table offers a detailed list of drinks and calories. But, beware, most ‘servings’ double when served at parties.

Calories Found in Alcoholic Beverages

Beverage Serving size                     Calories

Beer 12 ounces                                    160

Light Beer 12 ounces                        100

Non-alcoholic Beer 12 ounces        32

Red Wine 4 ounces                               85

White Wine 4 ounces                          80

Wine Cooler 8 ounces                       120

Daiquiri 4 ounces                               225

Margarita 4 ounces                           270

Gin and tonic 4 ounces                    150

Pina colada 4 ounces                        262

5. Enjoy the party not the food

Holiday gatherings are social functions that are notorious for uncontrolled nibbling. The best way to curb your intake this time of year is to have a light but healthy dinner before you go to the party. If you do like to nibble while being social, stick with vegetable and fruit trays or a deli platter. Another option to eliminate nibbling (and one of my favorite tricks) is to have a tin of powerful breath mints handy. Pop one of those little guys in your mouth and your taste buds will be overwhelmed …nothing will taste very good after that. Another bonus to this method is fresh breath so everyone will enjoy talking to you!

6. Get rid of leftovers

If you host a holiday gathering and serve traditional but less than healthy food … get rid of the leftovers. Package it up and insist your guests take it home. If your guest list includes health conscious athletes like yourself and they decline your generous offer then just throw it away. However, if you cannot bear the thought of chucking the cheesecake then at least wrap it up and place it in the freezer to enjoy at a later date.

Gaining control over your food choices during this time of the year can set the stage for positive eating habits. What a great way to enter a new year … healthy, rejuvenated and without any inches added to your waistline!

Angela Pifer, MSN, CN Bellevue Nutritionist

Bellevue Weight Loss Programs that Get Results! I work Nationally through Skype


Categories: Navigating the Obstacles of Life

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