Eat This, Not That: Seven Strategies for Enjoying Holiday Meals Without Guilt

There’s a little good news about holiday indulging. Studies show that most people of a healthy weight gain fewer pounds than they think they will during this time of feasting. Still, Samantha Barone, a registered dietician at Delray Medical Center, says there are ways to avoid weight gain while keeping the “yummy” in holiday festivities.

1.Make good (food) choices.

Try and stick with as many whole foods as possible, and stay away from overly processed options. Steer toward the shrimp cocktail. You’ll get protein. Fruit or vegetable trays are awesome. Stay away from anything that’s fried and doesn’t have nutritional value, like rolls and garlic bread. Baked chips are better than Doritos, but the reality is chips are chips. “It’s not even that [chips are] a terrible choice. You just don’t want to eat a ton of them,” Barone says.

2. Recognize that you’re walking into a holiday feast.

And make sure you’re not hungry when you get there. “A lot of people try to save calories and won’t eat all day long if they know they’ll be going to a party or a restaurant. That’s probably one of the worst things you can do. Then you’re starving going into it, and you’re not able to make good choices,” Barone says.

3. Include lean protein.

Make sure to include a good source of lean protein on your dinner plate, which is more satiating than anything else. “If your plate is primarily carbohydrates, like pasta or rice or bread, you might feel full in the moment, but then an hour or hour and a half later you’re searching for something else,” she says.

4. Include non-starchy vegetables.

With lots of greens, broccoli, cauliflower and peppers. Barone says there’ s a healthy version of one holiday favorite, green bean casserole. “Green beans are amazing and have so many different benefits. Lightly tossing them in extra-virgin olive oil with fresh garlic, salt and pepper, and roasting them in the oven is such a wonderful side dish. You can sprinkle shaved almonds, toss it all together and roast it in the oven.”

5. What about alcohol?

Alcohol can add a ton of excess calories to any meal. “If you’re choosing to drink that night, you want to be choosy about when, where and how much. I always tell people, ‘make sure you have water in hand or something that is a beverage that doesn’t have a lot of sugar, so that you’re sipping on something throughout the evening that is not just the alcohol.’ If you’re somebody that likes fun, different cocktails … OK, great. But if weight loss is your goal, you really want to cut out the alcohol,” Barone says.

6. When it comes to dessert, do some out-of-the-box thinking.

“If there is something there that you don’t get very often… save that moment for that special thing,” she says. But choose one thing for dessert and enjoy it.

This story is from our November/December 2019 issue of Boca magazine. For more content like this, subscribe to the magazine.

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