Thanksgiving plate, used to explain holiday menu options

Outsmart holiday menu temptation

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Don’t let a decadent menu prevent you from meeting your health goals — enjoy seasonal festivities without derailing your diet with these healthy holiday food tips.

If you have been working hard to eat healthy, the holiday season may sound like the ultimate challenge. Sugary, calorie-laden foods are likely to be in abundance wherever you go. The good news is a mindful dietary strategy can help you make sound nutritional choices without feeling deprived. 

Whether you are hosting a party or attending a get-together that features tables of rich and tempting food, following this plan for success can help you stay focused. 

Choose healthy ingredients 

If you are preparing a dish to serve in your home or at a potluck, your grocery list is critical. Fill it with ingredients typically found on the outside aisles of the store, which tend to be the freshest and free of additives, such as sodium and high-fructose corn syrup. Think fruits and vegetables, eggs, cheese, milk, and whole grains. 

Highlight natural flavors 

Resist the urge to drown the main dishes on your table in heavy sauces and sugary glazes. Instead, let the seasonal flavors of chestnuts, cranberries, and sweet potatoes speak for themselves by dusting them with light and complementary additions, such as a dash of cinnamon, a drizzle of olive oil, or a spritz of lemon. 

Snack smartly 

Eating more healthy snacks often can actually help you eat less food by the time dinner arrives. If you have been eating small meals throughout the day that are rich in fiber and protein, you are more likely to feel full and less likely to overindulge at the appetizer table. So, do not be afraid to grab a handful of walnuts or a bran muffin as you get dressed for your evening out. 

Go small 

Instead of loading up a large dinner plate, pick up a salad or appetizer-sized plate at your holiday fete. Chances are you will feel full after eating what is on the smaller dish. If you are still hungry, wait 10 minutes before going back for seconds to determine if you truly need more food. 

Do not deprive yourself 

Setting too many limits may cause you to crash and binge eventually. Instead of declaring holiday menu staples like mashed white potatoes and desserts off limits completely, satisfy your craving with a spoonful or two of your favorite indulgences. You have earned it.

Comfort foods reimagined.