Now that it’s December, we’re about to be surrounded by countless opportunities to eat unhealthy food. Cakes, brownies, cupcakes, and chocolates at events or given to you as gifts will be pervasive. Between office parties, friends’ parties, New Year’s parties, family gatherings, and everything in between, it’s hard to stay on a healthy eating pattern when there’s sweets everywhere. Of course, this is the time to treat yourself to some fun and enjoy the holiday spirit, but moderation is key to finding that balance. Here are some tips to watch your calorie intake (Cleveland Clinic, 2020):
- Determine in advance how much you’ll indulge and stick with that plan. Allow yourself some freedom, but don’t overdo it. For example, tell yourself you won’t have more than two cookies.
- Skip whipped cream and chocolate sauces in your drinks (hot chocolate, lattes, etc.)
- Don’t arrive at a party hungry. Have a light snack (with satiating protein and fiber, like nuts and an apple) before leaving the house so you don’t overeat.
- Bring something healthy so you’ll know there will be at least one option that’s nutrient-dense, such as a veggie tray, fruit kabobs, or whole-wheat chips with hummus.
- Remember the MyPlate message: make half your plate fruits and vegetables. Baking root vegetables, baked acorn squash, stuffed peppers, and hearty vegetable soups are common winter staples that make it easy to get more vegetables at a holiday gathering.
- Use a smaller plate if it’s a buffet. The smaller plate will keep portion control in check. Then give yourself time before getting seconds or dessert to determine if you’re full.
- Limit alcohol. Don’t forget that there are 7 calories per gram in alcohol, almost as much as fat. Add in fruit juice or soda, and the calories can really add up.
- Don’t make anything off limits. The more you forbid yourself to have something, the more likely you are to overindulge. Enjoy this special time of year in moderation and you’ll get back on track for the new year.