No matter how you celebrate the holidays, the festivities are bound to include wonderful food and drinks. Everyone cooks and shares their favorites. From tiny candies and cookies to elaborate roasts and fabulous apps and cocktails, the options for indulgence seem endless.
Take pleasure in the offerings and don’t feel guilty. Studies published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics revealed that, on average, Americans only gain about 1 pound over the holidays. If you’re overweight, you’ll probably gain a little bit more. But either way, live a little and gift yourself with a sampling of your most beloved treats.
Portion control is an easy way to enjoy all your favorites with no denial. You’ll head into the New Year with a satisfied smile on your face and nary a noticeable bulge on your body. These tips are easy, fun and really work.
- Plates and Bowls
Dinner plates have grown larger over the years from 8- to 10-inches to 12- to 14-inches in diameter. To make them look full, larger portions are required. Find yourself some plates from the past (maybe in grandma’s kitchen!) and your portion sizes will be smaller. The same applies to bowls; choose smaller ones for sweet treats and use the larger ones for healthy soups and salads. Research also found red plates make people eat less…and they’re so festive!
- Optical Illusions
Glassware may be clear but it can be deceptive. Research found that most people perceive short and wide glasses to hold less than their tall and thin counterparts. When asked to pour equal amounts of liquid into these two types of glasses, the majority of people poured 19 percent more into the shorter glass. That makes a big difference in calorie and alcohol content when you’re sipping cocktails. Test yourself at home before heading out to party.
- Divide and Conquer
Visualize your dinner plate as a pie chart. Divide it into 3 parts, 50 percent and two 25 percent sections. Dedicate the 50 percent section to your favorite fruits and vegetables, no holds barred (except for heavy sauces). Fill one of the remaining 25 percent spaces with your favorite protein like meat, poultry, fish or tofu. Choose your preferred starch to round out the plate. You’ve already started eating healthier.
- Set Your Priorities
When a coworker offers you a home baked oatmeal cookie and you detest oatmeal, kindly and gently decline the sweet. Hold out for your favorites and don’t eat carbs and calories just because they’re offered or because someone else is enjoying them. Grab a cracker or a carrot stick as you mingle and visualize that chocolate chip cheesecake you’ll be savoring at Aunt Karen’s holiday dinner.
- Drinking Games
Beverages of all kinds take center stage at many celebrations. From spiked punch to champagne and hot buttered rum, liquids flow freely. Although they don’t fill you up, it’s easy to overindulge. Drinking alcohol on an empty stomach will likely cut your evening short, so make a habit of alternating food and drink. Keep hydrated by alternating bona fide cocktails with tap or sparkling water garnished with a fresh lime or lemon wedge. Your body and soul will thank you in the morning
- Container Consciousness
Buying snacks and sweets in large containers is more economical but bad for chronic snackers. As soon as you bring home your purchase, it repackage in snack bags. When you crave a treat, grab one of those little bags and leave the room. You’re much more likely to limit your snack intake if you’re not reaching into a king size container for every bite.
- Control Your Environment
Goblets and crystal dishes overflowing with candy and other temptations add a nice flair to your coffee table or desk but they are bad influences. Researchers found that consumers ate 71 percent more snacks when they were in clear view. Stash the sweets, nuts and cookies in a drawer or cabinet. You’ll eat even less of those delicacies if you have to stand up and walk to grab a sample.
3. Share the Wealth
Remember sharing food with your mom, dad, friends and even lovers way back when? Rekindle that habit whenever possible and you’ll end up eating less. Restaurant diners share apps and desserts without hesitation. The ritual is much more intimate and satisfying when practiced in the comfort of home. And don’t limit it to just the first and last courses – be adventurous.
- Get Creative
When you’re putting together that plate with 50 percent fruits and vegetables, create an appetizing foodscape. Don’t just throw some sliced apples and baby carrots on the plate. Create a healthy dip for the apples with Greek yogurt, a tad of honey and a dash of cinnamon. Roast the carrots and snip some fresh dill on top. Remember you eat with your eyes first, so make sure what you see is as appealing as the taste and aroma of the food.
- Keep It Real
It’s a wise and healthy habit to read labels and choose the most nourishing foods available. However, many food choices can be healthy and still pack a load of carbs and calories. Don’t fool yourself into thinking overindulgence in wholesome food is good for you or even acceptable. As with most things in life, moderation is the key to contentment.