Late fall and early winter are full of family gatherings, holiday parties...and lots of heavy, filling, calorie-dense food. We all love indulging in the yummy dishes that are sure to be on offer, but are you enjoying it all a little too much? Sure, eating extra helpings of mashed potatoes and pecan pie is delicious now, but come summertime you'll wish you had held back. Being mindful when choosing meals and watching what you're putting into your mouth is important all year, but it can get tough when so much food is around during the holidays. We spoke with celebrity nutritionist Kimberly Snyder and nutrition and fitness expert Melissa Paris to get some tips on eating healthy (and staying away from temptation) during the holiday months.
First, begin your day well. "It's important to start with a good breakfast," says Melissa. "Eating something warm and filling like oats or warm quinoa is going to stop you from having cravings mid-morning. Cooked squash sprinkled with a little cayenne pepper and agave (or another healthy sweetener) is also delicious." But don't let your healthy regimen stop there. If you know you're going to an event or dinner where there will be lots of unhealthy food, eat something before you go. "Start each meal with raw food, such as carrot sticks or salad. The water in these veggies will help keep portion sizes under control," says Kim.
If you love your holiday feasts, don't feel that you can't eat anything—offer to cook something yourself! "By offering to cook a dessert and using healthier ingredients, you'll know there's something on the table that you won't feel guilty about eating," says Melissa. "Also, use coconut oil in your baking," says Kim. "It's a beauty fat that won’t oxidize under high baking temperatures and nourishes the thyroid." Portion control is also key. "You can try everything, but keep portion sizes small," says Melissa. "Beware of foods with hidden salt and lots of cream, like mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes. Stick with unprocessed foods such as vegetables and go light on the sauces and creams, as they can be full of hidden fats, sugar, and salt."
The holidays can also mean lots of drinking. "Don’t start guzzling liquids once you arrive at a party, as drinking too much while eating slows digestion and causes bloating," says Kim. "Instead, fill up on water between meals so you’re not dehydrated when you sit down at the table. When you’re dehydrated, you can mistake thirst for hunger and ultimately overeat. When it comes to alcohol, avoid beer, tequila, and rum, which cause sugar imbalances and bloating. If you really want a cocktail, stick to vodka. Wine is fine in moderation and isn’t as taxing on the liver as hard alcohol."