We’re officially in full-force holiday mode now, which means plenty of opportunity for overindulging at festive celebrations. No need to get all Grinchy—or put such strict limits on your eating that you end up feeling deprived. Here’s how to enjoy yourself this party-packed season and still be able to fit into your pants when it’s all over.
—Nicci Micco, M.S., Editor-at-Large for EatingWell Magazine
Get the Recipe: Sizzled Green Beans with Crispy Prosciutto & Pine Nuts
If you’re really trying to rein it in and worried that there won’t be anything healthy at the party, bring a delicious lower-cal dish.
You’ve heard it before: Have an apple before the party so you’re not so starved at the start of dinner that you wolf down everything in sight. It works. (Try one of these under-250 calorie snacks.) Or down a couple of glasses of water: in one 2010 study, people who drank two cups of water before meals lost more weight than those who didn’t.
Get the Recipe: EatingWell’s Pimiento Cheese »
When faced with a holiday spread, before you dive in, assess all your options and decide what you really want. Do you really need cheese and crackers, a handful of nuts and a mini quiche before a multi-course meal? Probably not. If it’s your style to taste a little of everything at a big holiday dinner, go easy on the appetizers so you actually have room for it. (Stick with mostly the veggie platter and go easy on the dip.) If, on the other hand, you’re a sucker for starters, keep that in mind when you’re dishing out those starchy sides: choose the mashed potatoes or the stuffing—or smaller servings of each. What “Healthy” Holiday Foods Should You Avoid? Find out here.
Get the Recipe: Ranch Dip & Crunchy Vegetables »
Research by EatingWell Nutrition Advisor Brian Wansink, Ph.D., suggests that simply moving away from treats may help keep us from overindulging. In his study, published in the International Journal of Obesity, people ate an average of 7.7 chocolate candies from a clear bowl directly in front of them versus 3.1 candies when they were in an opaque bowl out of arm’s reach.
Make a plate—and don’t be quick to empty the “discards.” Research has shown that seeing the “evidence” of what we’ve eaten—like bones from chicken or turkey and the shells of nuts—helps us to eat less.