5 Ways to Lighten Up!
Ahh…the holidays. Trays of chocolate-dipped cookies and jumbo tins of caramel corn are making rounds at work—you’d be crazy to start a diet before January! But if you’re looking to simply NOT gain a few pounds this season, here’s how you can lighten up, enjoy a treat or two and confidently navigate the annual office festivities.
Bring. Your. Own. Dish. Don’t be a victim to your coworkers’ fudgy confections and nutty cheese balls. When it comes to the holiday potluck, bring a dish that won’t weigh you down. For example, instead of relying on bags of greasy snacks, bake your own pita chips by slicing pita rounds into 8 triangles. Arrange them on a baking sheet and lightly brush with olive oil. Bake at 375°F for about 10 minutes, flipping once, until crisp. Serve them with hummus or fresh homemade salsa and voila! A healthy holiday treat. Make it even more festive by adding extra chopped red and green bell peppers.
2. JUST BECAUSE IT’S MINI DOESN’T MAKE IT SKINNY
Bite-size hors d’oeuvres and miniature desserts seem innocent enough, but don’t let them fool you. Keep in mind a single slider can pack in 300 to 400 calories. A piece of fudge? About 80 to 90. A couple of cocktail meatballs? Nearly 130. Mini tartlets? About 80 a pop. What starts as a few simple appetizers can quickly add up to more than a day’s worth of calories! Pay close attention to what you put on your plate (and do use a plate—it can be hard to remember how many you’ve had when you take from the passed platters!). Try just one or two of the most tempting, or grab better-for-you options like peel-and-eat shrimp, veggies and hummus, and sushi.
3. THE FULL FACTOR
Have you ever had a croissant or doughnut for breakfast and felt hungry within the hour? There’s a science to how full you feel after eating certain foods—it’s called the satiety index. Choosing foods with a high score on the satiety index will prevent you from wanting to eat everything on the holiday buffet, while foods with a low index will leave you feeling unsatisfied and hungry for more. Smart choices include potatoes, popcorn, apples and oranges. On the low end are croissants, chips and crackers. You don’t have to avoid them entirely, just be mindful.
4. MAKE SPIRITS BRIGHT, BUT NOT TOO BRIGHT
What would a holiday shindig be without a little spiked punch and a dose of eggnog? But here’s a word to the wise: Enjoy a taste and move on. Not only will you be grateful you didn’t turn into “that guy” at the Christmas party, but you’ll also save yourself hundreds of empty calories (a 5-ounce Cosmopolitan has about 215 calories). Instead, dilute your cocktail with club soda or offer to bring a lighter beverage, such as this Light Chai Eggnog with Caramel Drizzle.
5. GIVE AWAY THE GOODS
Baking and the holiday go hand in hand, but all those goodies hanging around the house can be hard to resist. This is a perfect time to turn your supply of fresh-baked cookies, muffins and breads into thoughtful gifts for your boss and coworkers. As an extra-special gesture (for your fellow bakers), prepare your goods in Baker’s Secret® bakeware (and perhaps throw in a gadget) to give with your homemade treat. And remember, your oven-fresh sweets can be healthy, too. Loaded with both fruit and a veggie, this Zucchini Banana Bread will be a hit at the office, and since it’s loaded with good-for-you ingredients, there’s no harm in saving a slice for yourself.
- Don’t be the first in line for the buffet. Often the foods that are the worst for you are the quickest to disappear. Avoid the temptation by letting your colleagues have first dibs.
- Use a dessert plate. Having a smaller plate will help keep portions in check. And remember, one trip, that’s it.
- Eat before you go. You’ve probably heard why you shouldn’t go grocery shopping while hungry. The same applies to holiday parties. Have a snack before you go—preferably one that’s high in protein and fiber—to prevent you from binging at the buffet.
- Stay hydrated. Sipping water throughout the party will help fill you up and neutralize the party punch.
The same tips apply to just about any holiday get-together. Instead of mindless sipping and grazing, make smart choices with little indulgences here and there, and you’ll get your fill of holiday fun without going overboard.
YOUR TURN: What’s your best trick for enjoying holiday goodies in moderation?