Throughout the holiday season, delicious treats are everywhere. And it’s natural to want to indulge in all of these goodies. The good news is that you can indulge in all of your holiday favorites with a little planning — and without guilt or deprivation.
Here are a few tips to help you navigate holiday parties this season.
1. Avoid an empty stomach.
Eat a snack around 100-150 calories before you go out. Eating a fruit, piece of cheese, hard-boiled egg, handful of nuts or a yogurt will help you think before you eat, and make smarter choices. Skipping meals to “save calories” for later always backfires, and leads to mindless overeating.
2. Use a smaller plate and smaller serving spoons.
A smaller plate provides automatic portion control. The visual impact of a full plate helps you make room for all of your favorites. And try using a tablespoon at a buffet, instead of a giant serving spoon.
3. Be a taster.
Studies show that the first bite or two of a treat food gives the most flavor pop and satisfaction. Avoid the urge to “eat the whole thing,” unless you really love it. Break off a piece of a cookie, or take a bite of someone else’s cake. By being a "taster," you'll get to try a bunch of different foods.
4. Bring a dish you can eat.
Choose the indulgent foods you enjoy, and then balance them with a go-to dish you know is calorie-controlled. Other guests will also appreciate a veggie platter, grilled chicken or a mixed greens salad.
5. Learn to barter.
Pre-planning some smart swaps helps you figure out what foods are most meaningful to you! For example, if you know you want to splurge more on dessert, cut out a glass of wine or skip that extra roll. Developing an effective food bartering system provides a lot of wiggle room to include all of your favorites.
6. Be a mindful eater.
This is easier than it sounds. Simply think before you eat. It doesn’t mean don’t eat; rather, make a better choice.
Madelyn Fernstrom, PhD is NBC News Health and Nutrition Editor. Follow her on Twitter @drfernstrom.