Five Ways to Healthier Holidays

Staying on a diet can be tough even under the best of conditions — which holiday gatherings of family and friends definitely aren’t. But there are ways to stay strong. Following are some tips that may help you steer toward healthier holiday eating.

1.  Plan ahead. Look at your schedule for the next month or so, and identify where you’d most like to be and what you’d most like to do, keeping in mind what will be easiest on you and your eating needs. If you’re hosting, plan a simple menu that includes fruits and vegetables — which can be easier to prepare than other dishes. For instance, prewashed salad can just be put in a bowl with some olive oil and vinegar on the side, while grapes make a sweet and easy after-dinner treat.

2.  Control your environment. Try skipping that large holiday party in favor of a small potluck gathering of friends and family. That way, you’ll have more control over what food will be in front of you. Bring a salad or plate of raw-vegetable crudités to ensure that a healthy and delicious option will be available. Fill your own plate to ensure you’re not overserved. If you must go to the large party, snack on something healthy ahead of time so you don’t arrive starving.

3.  Say no. It’s OK to say no to second servings, desserts, another glass of wine or even staying too long. If you find yourself sticking close to the food table and stuffing yourself because a party is too loud and conversations too difficult to follow, don’t feel bad about leaving early—your hosts will appreciate the time you were there.

4.  Manage expectations (and be easy on yourself). If you eat something you shouldn’t, it’s not the end of the world—everyone lapses occasionally. Take control by selecting special treats that you’ll really enjoy, such as a bit of cheese or a special dessert. And then balance them out with more salad or other healthy options.

5.  Substitute. Swap olive oil for butter, fish for meat, vegetables for stuffing, and fruit and nuts instead of dessert. The possibilities are endless for healthy and delicious alternatives!

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Marcella Durand

Marcella is a writer and editor who lives in New York City.