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Holiday Party: Guilt-Free Eating

How to celebrate, eat healthy and not overindulge. Plus, the Veggie Tree healthy party food recipe.

The holidays bring family and friends together to celebrate traditions and spread good cheer. They also bring lots of social opportunities for overeating. Here are tips on how to healthfully maneuver the season’s eatings:

For the holiday dinner

  • Go to someone else’s home this year so that there are no leftovers at your house. If you bring a pie or dessert, put it in a disposable dish and leave it with the hostess.
  • Sample everything on offer, but take small, bite-size portions instead of a full serving. This way you can taste more things and go through thebuffet line only once without ending up stuffed to the gills.
  • Be assertive. Don’t let family or friends pressure you and your family into overdoing it. Refuse food and drinks if you don’t want them.
  • Treat yourself to the holiday foods that mean the most to you — Aunt Joyce’s pecan pie, Grandma’s sugar cookies, Dad’s famous eggnog. Then eat them wisely. The danger is indulging in too much of everything.
Visit the December Holidays board at the MetroKids Pinterest page for more healthy holiday food ideas.

Holiday eating at home

  • When baking, after preparing holiday goodies such as cookies, immediately fill the mixing bowl with soap and water so you aren’t tempted to sample the batter. Those stolen calories add up.
  • Find ways for your family and friends to be active at your holiday gatherings. Go for a walk to chat instead of sitting at the table; play a game instead of watching one on TV.
  • Keep the snacks healthy. Always have low-fat snacks available — think crudités, edamame, sardines on crackers — because it’s easy to go offtrack with holiday sweets.

Eating at holiday parties

  • Eat something healthy before you leave for a party so you aren’t hungry when you arrive.
  • Always offer to bring a fruit or veggie tray with a Greek yogurt dip to a party, so you’ll have something good to munch on.
  • Use a small plate and visit the food table only once.
  • Move away from the food table to mingle. The closer you are, the more likely you are to reload your plate.

Althea Zanecosky is a Philadelphia registered dietitian and national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

The Veggie Tree
One of our eat-healthy tips is to bring a veggie tray with you when you go to a holiday party. Wow your hosts by making a festive and easy-to-assemble Veggie Tree, suggested by Squidoo.com. Use a Styrofoam cone as your base, then stick the following veggies onto the cone with toothpicks:
• 3 large bunches broccoli
• 2 large broccoliflower
• 1 large cauliflower
• 1+ red bell pepper, sliced
• 1+ yellow bell pepper, sliced
• 1 package cherry tomato
• 1 jar cocktail onions
• 1 bag baby carrots

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