At this time of year, it’s all too easy to give in to holiday stress and overeat. But when you’re preparing a holiday dinner yourself, for friends and family, you can exercise a measure of control over how much you eat. Remember, you have weight loss goals you want to maintain, so planning ahead is key.
Here are several handy tips for preparing a holiday dinner that is both healthy and conducive to staying on track with your weight loss plan.
Keys to a Successful Holiday Dinner
Here are several important tips for a successful dinner that is low in calories and healthy, but still delicious – and which won’t break the budget.
There are numerous recipes for low-processed-carb, high-protein foods for the holidays. Look at different ways to prepare turkey. Breast meat is lower in calories than dark meat, so perhaps plan on purchasing turkey breast if you’re feeding a small group. You can also find recipes for low-fat gravy to accompany it. Fat is not as much of a problem if you’re trying to lose weight as carbs are, but it is very high in calories.
Look also at low-carb dressings for salads, and stuffing recipes that use only a small amount of whole grain bread… or none. A stuffing with chopped apple or sausage or roasted chestnuts would be a better choice. As long as you plan ahead, you can keep holiday stress to a minimum and be confident that you’ll serve a tasty meal.
Start with Soup
A vegetable soup is an excellent way to start dinner. You can make it high in fiber. Combined with the liquid, it fills the stomach and attacks hunger where it lives — even before you get to the main course. Numerous recipes can be found online for soups that make great low-calorie starters. Look for those that focus on vegetables that grow above ground rather than starchy root vegetables such as potatoes.
Small is Better
Research shows that people eat less when they have less space available on their plates. So seek out smaller plates. You can find stylish plates that are slightly smaller than regular plates (it doesn’t take much). This helps ensure that both you and your guests don’t indulge too excessively.
Vegetables and Salads
Vegetable dishes and salads can satisfy appetites without piling on calories. The humble cauliflower, sprinkled with rosemary and pepper or turmeric, and baked in the oven, makes a delicious addition without adding large numbers of calories (one cup of cauliflower, cooked, contains about 30 calories).
It can be difficult to make desserts that are healthy, but it can be done. Even if you find yourself struggling to assemble something delicious without excess calories, there are still things you can do. Slice pies or cakes into smaller slices. If you’re used to slicing pie into eight, try twelve or sixteen instead. Use smaller plates for desserts to reduce the amount of space available. Research shows that reducing the amount of space available on a plate can have a significant impact on how much you eat, and controlling portion sizes really works.
Pumpkin pie is popular at this time of year, and with creativity you can reduce the calorie count. A substantial portion of the calories in pumpkin pie comes from the crust, so look for low-calorie alternatives to a standard pie crust.
Alcoholic drinks add a lot of calories and are toxic to good gut flora. Flavored sparkling water is an alternative, and reduces your calorie count. Also, if you have friends or relatives who will be driving home after dinner, this helps ensure they return home safely – that reduces holiday stress in itself! Try a couple of tablespoons of pure cranberry juice (no sugar or other juices) in a glass of sparkling water. It looks festive, is very thirst-quenching, and is great for your kidneys.
Enjoy Yourself Without Holiday Stress
On the day of the meal, remember: you have a plan, you’ve covered all the bases, so let go of holiday stress. Now is not the time to worry about calories — because you’re already prepared. Enjoy a fabulous dinner and the company of family and friends.
If you’d like to learn more about portion control during the holiday season, click here.