8 Tricks to Keep Your Diet This Holiday Season

The holiday season is here again. This means planning lots of parties and celebrations…and LOTS of eating. It will take some strong willpower to overcome the food temptations and diet challenges of the holiday season.

For the majority of us, it’s not easy to remain on track with our normal healthy diet this time of year. However, there are some tricks and tips that you can use to keep your diet on track this holiday season.

Tasty Trick #1—Mentally Plan for Parties

You can’t simply avoid going to parties during the holiday season, whether it’s for the office, family, or a friend inviting you over to have dinner and catch up. Prepare yourself mentally for the party and everything associated with that, which involves the liquor, food, and eating later than usual.

Before going to the party, be sure to have a healthy and filling meal so you are not as tempted to overindulge. With a full stomach, you are also less likely to drink too much alcohol.

Tasty Trick #2 – Know that Shopping Malls Can Be Diet Disasters

The holidays also usually mean that you will probably find yourself at a crowded mall or shopping center. Your shopping time may last for hours. You may even find yourself shopping during lunchtime or dinnertime, which can make it tempting to head over to the food court.

But you don’t have to buy anything at the food court. Instead, pack some snacks in a bag before you leave for your shopping trip, such as:

  • Low fat pretzels
  • Almonds
  • Died fruit or fresh fruit
  • Low-calorie snack bars
  • Pistachios

Tasty Trick #3 – Use Leftovers Wisely

With the holiday season comes leftovers. What are you going to do with those leftovers? Be creative and use them wisely and healthfully. You could use turkey to make a nutritious vegetable soup, or a turkey spinach salad. If you have leftover ham, use it to make an omelet or low fat ham and cheese sandwich on whole wheat bread.

Tasty Trick #4 – Remember Portion Control

Don’t eat everything on your plate. In fact, choose each item you put onto your plate carefully. Lean proteins should be chosen according to the size of your palm. Remember, even healthy food choices have calories, so make every choice count. If you want to indulge a little, plan that into your portions and calories for the entire day so you can avoid overeating.

Tasty Trick #5 – Eat Before You Go

Don’t arrive at the party and head straight for the buffet table. Instead, grab a bottle of water and mingle with the crowd, making conversation with some of the guests as you wait until mealtime rather than snacking. You will have time to get comfy with the setting, surveying the choices of food on the buffet before you dive in.

Tasty Trick #6 – Trick the Buffet

Whether it’s a buffet dinner or not, you should choose the smallest plate available. Limit your servings to the healthiest choices, and be sure to include more fruits and vegetables. Steer clear of dips and sauces; these are just empty, extra calories.

Tasty Trick #7 – Limit Alcohol

Limit your alcohol intake at holiday celebrations. Alcohol has a lot of empty calories. Plus, if you drink too much alcohol, it is likely that you won’t be in control of what you have to eat. If you feel uncomfortable or weird not having a drink in your hand, sip on some bottled water.

Tasty Trick #8 – Take Your Low Calorie Treats With You

If are invited to a holiday party, take your low calorie desserts with you. This will help you stay away from the fattening and tempting treats that are typical fare of the holiday festivities. Share your low calorie dessert with the guests. Many people will love the healthy alternative.

Don’t let the few weeks of the holiday season ruin a whole year’s worth of hard work and discipline when it comes to your eating habits. It can be tough, but using these tips and tricks can really help you stay on track with your diet during the holidays. Plus – not gaining holiday weight puts you on the path to starting the new year happy and healthy! Enjoy!

Are Children’s Birthday Parties Out of Control?

For many busy parents children’s birthdays look nothing like they did even a decade ago. As a child, your birthday probably happened at home, surrounded by family and maybe a few friends. You opened a couple presents, blew out the candles, and dug into a cake – homemade by Mom, of course.

Today’s birthdays bear little resemblance to the simple parties of times gone by. Modern children’s parties are action-packed affairs that require weeks (and even months) of planning.

Parents take on a laundry lists of tasks that include everything from shopping, baking, entertaining, preparing, planning, and – ultimately – exhaustion. Parties feature Pinterest-inspired favors and handmade decorations that would put a wedding reception to shame.

Fight for Your Right to Party!

To have a proper party today, you need a theme, color scheme, and personalized décor that complements your child’s age and interests. One family spent $40,000 on a Wizard of Oz-themed birthday party. Another featured 32 floral centerpieces and 300 costumes.

Check out this article on children’s birthday parties published by the Huffington Post.

The situation has become so dire, one family therapist was inspired to gather a few moms and launch a website to raise awareness about excessive children’s birthday parties.

The problem isn’t confined to the United States, either. One study found that parents in Britain spend almost $2 billion on children’s parties each year.

Read more about these studies here.
Fortunately, there are ways to strike a balance between over-the-top and too little fuss.

1. Scale Back on Gifts – A Mom’s Mantra

Everyone says they’re going to do it, but few people stick to their resolve. The truth is, the party is supposed to be for the child, but many end up being forMom and Dad. When a party becomes a status symbol, it’s time to cut back.

If the presents at your house have turned into small mountains, make a conscious effort to scale down. One popular modern mom mantra suggests buying a child just four gifts: something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read.

By reducing presents to just four thoughtful items, you and your child can pause to truly savor the act of opening gifts.

2. Lower Expectations (Must Be This Tall to Ride…)

Many people experience a small bout of depression after the holiday season concludes. As children’s parties become bigger, more extravagant affairs, experts say the same phenomenon is emerging around birthday parties.

Experts speculate that the buildup and subsequent let-down surrounding just one day causes kids to experience a roller coaster of emotions. Consider slowly scaling back birthday celebrations so your child is not overwhelmed.

3. It’s Better to Give Than to Receive…

Turn your child’s birthday into an opportunity to teach him or her about helping others. Instead of accepting gifts from classmates or friends, ask invitees to bring an item of clothing or a book to donate to someone in need.

Other ideas include gathering toiletry items or clothing for domestic violence shelters, or assembling food and other supplies for your local humane society. Most community outreach organizations are always looking for food, clothing, and other items.

Other good ideas include visiting a nursing home to visit with residents and serving in a soup kitchen.

4. Pick One Big Gift (with Your Child’s Help)

As birthdays approach, many parents wander the toy aisles, trying to find gifts their child will love. Instead of wracking your brain for gift ideas, consider allowing your child to select one major gift with your help.

You may wish to shop online so your child can have fun browsing the Internet for ideas. Besides eliminating stress, online shopping can also save money. Many retailers offer exclusive Internet coupons and deals during various times of the year.

A child’s birthday should be a special day, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. By managing your child’s expectations and making a few adjustments, you can slow it all down and enjoy a more peaceful celebration with your birthday boy or girl.

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Best Party Drinks for Health and Weight Watching

Once the weekend rolls around, those of us who enjoy a cocktail, really look forward to a good drink. Holiday time offers parties, rich foods, and often high-calorie beverages. Here are some tips for alcoholic and virgin drinks when you want to partake, but you don’t want to bust your diet.

Oldies But Not Such Goodies

Drinks like Egg Nog, Pina Coladas, and Daiquiris are delicious and satisfying (momentarily) but enormously high in empty calories. Cream, sweetened syrups, and cocktails with sugar around the rim of the glass can be festive but fatal to a healthy diet.

Enjoying the Standards

Wine and beer don’t need to bust your caloric budget. You can partake in moderation without too much regret. Of course, the sugar content in both will come back to bite your metabolism in the butt, but if you want to have one drink, go for it.

A “light” alcoholic or non-alcoholic beer can set you back a mere 95 calories. A heartier brew, perhaps from a local source or an exotic import, may hover somewhere between 150-250 calories per 12-ounce glass. If you love a good beer, that one serving may be well worth trading for that slice of Brie cheese.

Red and white wine, per 5-ounce serving, can be 100-150 calories. It’s tougher to measure wine than beer or spirits because it’s usually free-poured. Sometimes in restaurants, they’ll offer a four- or five-ounce carafe, but otherwise, the size of the glass may throw off the amount. So word to the wine-drinking wise.

For the benefits of red and white wines (and champagne), click here.

Spirits Galore!

Most alcohol contains about seven calories per gram. Hard liquors (tequila, vodka, rum, scotch, brandy, gin, etc.) run about 100 calories a shot. So if you drink a straight-up shot, you’re looking at a 100-cal deficit.

That’s not too bad, it’s just that once that shot’s down the hatch, it’s over. So, it makes sense to add a mixer. Mixers are where you can get into trouble. For example, fizzy waters can be awesome or abominable for your diet.

Just because it says it’s water and it’s clear, doesn’t mean tonic water has zero anything. In fact, one 12-ounce serving can be at least 100 calories, have over 30 grams of sugar, and be very high in sodium. Club soda has fewer calories, but often sodium is added and so are minerals to enhance flavor. Seltzer water is your best bet.

Soda is bad, period—alone or with a shot of a spirit. Mixing with a diet soda, may upfront be fewer calories, but it’s still not a great choice. Most diet sodas contain aspartame or Splenda, which are harmful chemicals that, ultimately, make you gain weight. Best to just stay away from sugary or artificially sweetened soda altogether.

Here’s Your Drink Ticket

If you’re opting out of wine or beer, here are some health and diet conscious ideas for cocktails:

-Try infusing natural ingredients into vodka or gin. You can make your own “flavored” alcohol without adding sugar or calories. A day, a week, or even two, place your desired “twist” into the bottle with the spirit. Some yummy options are: fresh lemon, raspberry, or rosemary. Keep the bottle in the fridge and then strain the pulp or seeds with a cheesecloth when ready to drink.

-Buy a flavored alcohol. Just note that many of them contain less alcohol content per ounce than unflavored spirits. Add seltzer water as a mixer. It has no calories or added sugar or sodium. Then garnish with a slice of fruit.

-Use a pure spirit and then mix with a store-bought flavored seltzer. (A brand like LaCroix has no added sodium, sugar, or artificial ingredients. They offer fruit flavored fizzy water made from the oils extracted from the particular fruit.)

-Use Kombucha as a mixer. Get your probiotic fill while catching a buzz. Very little sugar content and all natural.

-Use fresh ingredients for garnish and mixers. Lime, lemon, and mint are great party pleasers. Garnish: celery sticks, carrots (high in fiber), and olives are high in antioxidants and help lower cholesterol (good fat)

Adding a healthy garnish will keep you from eating a hunk of bread with your cocktail. Also, remember to sip water in between sips of your party drink. It will make it last longer, keep you hydrated, and reduce chances of next-day regret.

And no matter if you’re watching your weight, drinking moderately, or just tasting—never drink alcohol and drive. Just a friendly reminder… Enjoy a wonderful holiday season and keep the good spirit flowing!

Bring on the Holidays – But Leave out the Extra Weight

Eight easy tips to avoid holiday weight gain

It’s inevitable, and you can’t avoid it.  We’re talking about the Holidays, not the weight gain!  There are plenty of ways to prepare yourself and feel good about still being able to celebrate each holiday without adding to your waistline.  You might think that this is about telling you to skip dessert, or alcohol, but the tips are actually to provide you with the freedom “to enjoy”.

Some of us may spend holidays alone, or working, but for the most part, we spend them with family and friends.  Some will even spend holidays with co-workers, religious groups, and social groups.  It doesn’t matter where or how you spend it, as long as you prepare before the celebration.

Above all else, this is a time to create memories and spread the love.  We need to keep that perspective in mind and love ourselves as well. It’s become such a popular custom to spend money on gifts, shipping, travel, decorations, food and drink, and tend to think we should reward ourselves with whatever we choose.  The problem is that we end up regretting the reward later when we have to limit ourselves in order to lose the added weight gained.

Hold Up

What if there was a way that you could enjoy your time with family and friends, eat, drink and be merry and continue to do so once the holidays are over? Well there is, and we want to share some of those tips with you.

Sometimes we get so busy when we travel, host a holiday party, or attend one, and we forget to eat.  Or we hold off on eating, so that we can indulge later in the day.  That’s the first issue.  We need to treat this day the way we would any other day and include a small breakfast and stay nourished so that we don’t overindulge.

Another simple way to avoid weight gain is to fill your plate with all of the items that you want, but be sure to include a solid amount of protein. Whether you choose the main course protein, or something else prepared, it should be the center of your meal. If you have a special diet or preference, you can choose to bring your own dish, or eat something before the celebration.  This way you are not caught by surprise, and choosing any option possible in order to solve the hunger issue.

Be Mindful of the Season

Additionally, to slow down the weight gain is to slow down the conversation.  While enjoying the different selections of food, drink, and dessert, choose to enjoy and spend time with others.  Not only will this create memories, but you will not be focused solely on the food. There are times that we will look back and wish we would have spent more time with a certain person in our lives. Well, this is your chance. We don’t usually look back and remember what dessert or side dish that we ate, but who was there and who wasn’t there.

It is important to remember that our body does not register that we are full right away, it takes some time. Waiting before you fill your plate up again, may be the best decision.  Another option is to go for a walk, and take a friend or family member with you.  If you rush to fulfill your appetite, you may overeat and feel overfull afterward.  Slow it down to enjoy conversation and food.

Easy on the Snacking

When you arrive at a party, or host your own, it can be tempting to snack while conversing or making the snacks.  Be mindful of what you put in your mouth.  Choose snacking carefully, cheese and crackers, fruit, nuts and vegetables are all great choices, and the fiber will fill you up temporarily!

While setting up for an event, or attending a holiday party, make it a point to use small plates as well as large ones. The smaller plates allow for smaller portions giving guests the alternative to larger servings.  Many people like to serve or enjoy wine, beer, liquor and eggnog during festivities.  Just be sure to limit the amount of alcohol available for consumption, and serve plenty of non-alcoholic alternatives. If you are consuming alcohol, try to limit your consumption and be sure to stay hydrated throughout the parties. Alcohol not only adds extra calories but also adds to the emotional factor.  It may increase your irresponsibility, not only in food choices but in conversations and in driving.

The last thing to consider, but definitely not least, is dessert.  There is no reason that you shouldn’t enjoy a dessert, as long as there are no dietary restrictions. Moderation is the key.  If there is more than one option that you can choose, then choose wisely. Servings should be less if you are consuming more than one dessert. An alternative would be to take the dessert home with you. That would allow for fewer calories for the day, and you can enjoy it the next day. If you are the one baking, try using less sugar or alternative sweeteners, such as apple sauce or bananas and fats than what the recipe calls for.  Many oils can be substituted as well as sweeteners. Or find a healthy recipe that can give you the list of ingredients needed to change the original recipe.

It can be stressful to see family or friends at times, and we sometimes choose to eat and drink our anxieties away.  But if we take a few minutes to realize that this is a time to celebrate, we can appreciate our time together and change our attitude to make the right choices.

On that note, here’s to the holidays, happiness and health!!  Cheers!

Main Points:

  1. Stay nourished – don’t overindulge.
  2. Eat what you want but include protein.
  3. Don’t be caught by surprise, if you are on a special diet bring your own dish, or eat something before the celebration.
  4. Take more time to enjoy and spend time with others in conversation.
  5. Be mindful of everything that goes in your mouth. Don’t snack mindlessly.
  6. Use smaller plates.
  7. Limit your alcohol intake and stay hydrated.
  8. Enjoy dessert – with moderation.