Healthy Holiday Entertaining

By on November 1, 2014

By David Novak−

As the holiday approaches, there will be no shortage of parties, celebrations, cocktails and and decadent dishes. Staying healthy can be an arduous task during the holidays, so planning healthy meals is a must, especially if you’re the one hosting the soirée. Make time to plan every recipe you’ll be serving, and eliminate many of those calorie-laden temptations by preparing healthier food options. Holidays need not be all about indulgent eating. Rather, focus your efforts on enjoying the holidays with family and friends. Here are several reminders you should keep in mind when it comes to having a healthy holiday:

Don’t skip meals

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If you’re planning to host a holiday feast, avoid skipping any meals prior to the event. You’ll wind up snacking like crazy on what you’re preparing, or gorging yourself during the event. You can also eat light snacks like fruit, yogurt or nuts before the party. This will keep you from being too hungry and losing your restraint, which could result in overeating. Remember to always eat breakfast. Aside from it being the first meal of the day, studies also show that those who eat breakfast are more easily satiated throughout the day.

Keep track of what you’re eating

Preparing the food can also lead to overeating, since you tend to keep on tasting every viand, checking to see if it’s cooked properly. You can try chewing a sugarless gum, which can help you to avoid too much taste testing. You can also ask for the opinion of your friends when it comes to tasting numerous dishes.

Choose healthier food options

Make sure to serve healthier food varieties. Plan the menu and consider choosing plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean meats, seafoods and whole grains.

  • For appetizers, serve fresh fruits and vegetables with low-fat and low-sodium dressings and dips. You can also use salsa, fat-free yogurt or sour cream instead of creamy dips. You can offer unsalted nuts such as pecans and walnuts. Fruits and vegetables are filling with zero or low calories, so they’re the best options to serve as appetizers. They are also enriched with fiber, which helps to curb hunger.
  • For side dishes, you can also choose a variety of vegetables, and be sure to prepare them without added salt or fat.
  • When preparing stuffings or mashed potatoes, choose low or sodium-free versions of the listed ingredients. Instead of adding salt to taste, you can use fresh or dried herbs, garlic and other spices. Opt for low-fat or reduced-fat cheeses on casseroles and salads.
  • Choose lean cuts of meats for your other dishes. Try to avoid frying, but instead serve it as grilled, baked or broiled. Refrain from adding salt, and minimize the use of fat during cooking. For more flavorful options, you can add herbs and spices to healthy meat options, such as chicken, turkey and fish. Try to avoid cured meats since it contains a high amount of sodium.
  • For healthier desserts, use low-fat dairy and butter in baked goods and replaced the oil with applesauce in certain recipes. You can also limit the sugar by decreasing half of the actual serving, and replacing it with fresh fruits instead, without compromising the flavor. You can also substitute two egg whites instead of a whole egg to reduce the cholesterol content. Serving the desserts in petite portions can also help reduce calories and total fat intake.

Opt for smaller plates

Encourage your guests to consume smaller portions by using smaller plates, bowls and cups. They’ll thank you later. Eating smaller portions also allows your stomach more time to signal the brain that it’s already full. Several studies suggest that bigger plates can lead you to unconsciously overeating, so it’s best to use plates in smaller sizes.

Go easy on alcohol

Avoid serving high-calorie and high-fat eggnog, and opt instead for a wine or light beer instead. You can also offer coffee, herbal tea and low-calorie punch for those who prefer non-alcoholic beverages.

Focus on family and friends

Holidays are not just about the abundance of food being served at every table. It is the time to celebrate and be thankful for the fruitful relationship you have with your family and friends. Spend the quality time together and enjoy socializing rather than focusing on the food at the buffet table.

davidnovakDavid Novak is a newspaper columnist, and his byline has appeared in newspapers and magazines around the world. He’s an avid health enthusiast, and frequently is featured in regional and national health publications. He is also a weekly writer for Healthline. To visit his other features, visit

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Healthy Holiday Entertaining