Six tips to make holiday parties healthier

Dietitian Tina Stewart shares her tips on how to ditch extra calories over the holidays

Crudites jars with moroccan hummus
We recently spoke with Loblaw dietitian Tina Stewart who shared great tips on how to eat well this holiday season without having to pay for it in the new year.

1. Shop smart
Plan your grocery trip. Make a list, and don’t go without eating first. A list keeps you on track, and high-calorie impulse buys won’t be as tempting on a full stomach. Stewart also advises incorporating extra vegetables into your holiday menu planning, rutabagas and sweet potatoes are an excellent fibre-rich addition to your dinner plate.

2. Healthier options
Try roasting your veggies instead of sautéing them – this brings out extra flavour, and only requires a little oil. Grocery stores may offer roasting kits, or you can mix and match a selection of your own – try combinations of beets, potatoes, carrots, sweet potato and onions.

Nuts and olives are healthy snacks, when portioned correctly. (Remember: olives are high in salt, and a proper serving of nuts is 1.5 ounces, or a small handful.)

Substitute Greek yogurt for sour cream in recipes and dips to cut calories.

When serving cheese and crackers, opt for grainy crackers or Melba toast paired with a strong flavoured, reduced-fat cheese. Goat’s milk cheese is also a delicious alternative, if you’re worried about losing flavour with reduced fat cheeses.

Hummus, pita, and vegetables (try our hummus recipe, shown above) are a healthy option at the chips and dip table, and add a shot of protein and fibre to your diet.

3. Party prep
Eat before the party – attending on an empty stomach puts you at risk of a buffet binge. Try a smaller version of a normal meal, a sandwich, or a serving of Greek yogurt.

Cocktails are a party staple, but are high in calories and sugar. Try these tricks: turn a glass of wine into a spritzer with soda, alternate an alcoholic beverage with sparkling or flavoured water, or use diet mixers. (If you’re the party host, set out a pitcher of mint, citrus, or apple-infused water for guests and watch it disappear!)

4. Buffet tips and tricks
If you find yourself at a party on an empty stomach, make your first buffet run all about the vegetables. The fibre will help fill you up and curb your appetite. Another helpful trick is to use a small plate, and walk away from the buffet table to eat. A visual of how much you’re eating is a great strategy for portion control.

5. All in moderation
Don’t feel like you can’t indulge, especially in something that only comes your way once a year. Stewart recommends the 80/20 rule (eating healthily 80 percent of time, less so the other 20 percent). Being choosy, and going for quality over quantity is a good holiday mantra. Small-sized desserts are perfect indulgences for satisfying your sweet tooth (cake lollipops are a trendy, fun dessert this year).

6. Damage control
Have reasonable expectations of yourself – and relax and enjoy your holiday. “Healthy eating is a pattern of eating, not what we did last night” says Stewart, so if you overindulge, “accept it, move on, and try to get back on track the next day.”

What do you do to keep healthy during the holidays?

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