DES MOINES, IA – Jane was successfully navigating her way through the smorgasbord of snacks at her neighborhood holiday party. Then she made a wrong turn and ended up in front of a plate of fudge… which was right next to the cocktail wieners… which sat in front of the chips and dip.
It’s a familiar saga. Even with the best intentions, it’s hard to resist temptation (and maintain your weight) amid a sea of holiday treats. However, according to Julie Enga, RD, LD, a Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield nutrition consultant, maintaining a healthy weight through the holidays can be easy if you set limits on what, and how much, you eat.
Avoid foods on the ‘naughty list’
The trick to beating the buffet is to follow the “80-20 rule.” Make sure 80 percent of your intake comes from healthy snacks, and avoid the high-sugar, high-fat items sure to show up on the scale in January.
The nice list of holiday snacks includes:
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Baked tortilla chips and salsa
- Hard candy
- Low-fat whole grain crackers
- No-calorie/diet soft drinks
- Shrimp (steamed, not fried)
The naughty list includes:
- Cheese and crackers
- Salami, meatballs, cocktail wieners and other processed meats
- Chips and dip
- Fudge, cookies, and other confections
- Sweetened beverages
- Egg nog
“You can’t eat too many fresh vegetables and fruits,” Enga says. “They’re low-calorie, but high fiber, so they fill you up. And if you’re full, you’re less likely to overdo it with the chips, cheese and salami.
By the same token, the point of the 80-20 rule is to help you make healthy choices, not make you miserable. “Just because an item is on the naughty list doesn’t mean you can’t have any,” Enga says. “You can still have Mildred’s famous fudge – just take one piece instead of four.”
Eat a healthy dinner or snack before you go. If you’re already hungry when you walk in the door, it’s going to be a lot harder to resist a plate full of meatballs.
Bring the healthy dish. Don’t rely on others to bring pretzels or veggie tray. If you want to ensure that healthy options are available, then bring them yourself.
Go easy on the alcohol. Alcohol has calories too (and that’s why they call it a “beer gut”). A glass of red wine is the caloric equivalent of three pieces of fudge.
Incorporate exercise into your holiday routine. “A good workout can ease the guilt from having that second piece of fudge,” Enga says. And, if you don’t have time for your usual routine, vow to do something, even if it is 10 – 15 minutes.