SparkPeople Blogs  •  party  •  holidays

4 Ways to Enjoy Holiday Treats While Dieting

By , SparkPeople Blogger
It's the most wonderful time of the year, unless you are trying to adhere to a weight-loss plan.  Then the holidays can feel like a day-after-day deprivation. The 41 days between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day can be packed with festivities filled with fattening foods making you feel frantic and frustrated.  But denying yourself of all the holiday treats is not the way to go.
The act of restricting your favorite foods can actually backfire and bring about unplanned overeating and binging.  A 2007 study in the journal Appetite documented this vicious cycle which can result in feelings of guilt, anxiety and depression.  Dieters who implemented strict food restrictions had an increased desire for those "forbidden foods," bringing about food cravings and greater temptation; when compared to dieters who included these type "forbidden foods" on occasion.

So keep this the most wonderful time of the year--relax, enjoy the holiday and include the foods you love--on occasion! Here are strategies and tips to help:
  1. Focus on Maintenance:  Go into weight maintenance mode during the holidays, and then kick it into high gear again come Jan. 1, as your New Year's resolution.  The goal isn't to lose weight during this time, just not gain back the pounds you've already lost. 
  1. Party with a Plan:  Starting few days before a special gathering, office party, or family celebration, save 100-200 calories each day and put them in your "calorie bank" to spend the day of the big event.  You could easily have 600-800 extra calories saved to spend at the party on those higher-calorie buffet and bar options. 
  1. Scope Out the Buffet First:  Look for food items that you really want and would really enjoy tasting and eating.  Mentally note what you want the most.  Then go get your plate and fill it with a small sample of each item.  Mindfully eat each sample focusing on the appearance, smell, texture, and flavor.  Later in the evening, get a second tasting of only those items that truly tempted your taste buds.  Check out these best and worst party food ideas:
Here's a pinnable, printable graphic that can remind you at a glance which choices are better!
 And the details....
Best Party Foods Calories Leave on
the Buffet Table
Veggies (1 cup) and low-fat dressing or salsa   145 Chips (1 ounce) and dip (2 T) 250
Boiled shrimp (12 large) 70 Chicken wings (6 wings) 510
Hummus (2 T) and pita (2 wedges) 90 Cheese (4 1-inch cubes) and crackers (5) 360
Pumpkin pie (1/8 pie) Skip the end of the crust to save 75 more calories   235 Pecan pie (1/8 pie) 490
  1. Beware of the Bar:  Alcohol is a double-whammy.  These drinks contain many calories, but also lower your inhibition and discipline.  A couple of drinks and you may find yourself downing mounds of nuts, chunks of cheese, and handfuls of appetizers.  Skip the wine coolers and hard lemonades, which are loaded with sugar calories.  Use diet soda, diet tonic water, lower calorie mixes or a low-calorie beer.  Limit to no more than two alcoholic beverages for the evening. (Try these 10 Cocktails with 150 Calories or Less)
What are your holiday survival tips and suggestions?

Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints
See more: party holidays


NANAW12001 12/30/2018
Thanks for the great information. Report
I plan to maintain over the Holidays. I will eat soup or veggies or fruit before the party or gathering and eat a little bit of everything. I have done this in the past and it works for me. Report
I never even considered maintenance for this time of year. Good idea! I did well at Christmas, blew it big time at Thanksgiving. I've also learned to forgive myself, let it go and just hop back on the wagon. Mindful eating did help. I had half a cup of stuffing and was satisfied and ran around with my nephews for exercise. Report
I had been wondering about this today. I was hopeful it was doable. I have often used this strategy when I know I am going out to eat. I just didn't know that it is an acceptable way to eat when you need to. And I will remember to try to stay in maintenance mode over the holidays. Report
We have decided on our first holiday treat this year. Saturday morning we're going to the local coffee shop and splitting one of their giant muffins and having a small peppermint mocha. I am SO looking forward to it, and it's making it easier to pass up the "treats" that are springing up everywhere. Report
Do any of you remember Impossible Pie? Before I fell off the "diet wagon" three years ago, for the holidays I made the pumpkin one using low fat ingredients, and it was delicious! No crust, and BTW, pre-cut it up into your 1/8 serving size to pop in the microwave whenever temptation strikes. Report
Great things to keep in mind. It can make a big difference! Report
good hints Report
I have read these holiday blogs every year but somehow this has really set my mind at rest. Thank you Becky! Report
I'm always leery when I hear Eat What I Want during the Holidays...for me Holiday foods are trigger foods...and almost everything in sight turns out to be something I would like to eat, and it starts an avalanche of cravings. So for someone like me...this philosophy doesn't work too well. I might get away with it for 1 or 2 party get togethers...but the holidays are a long stretch. The only way I could manage this without gaining would be to stick to very low calorie, nutritionally dense food before and after the 'feast'. Report
I think I managed to cope at my Ladies' Social Christmas dinner. I took a second helping of meat and veg instead of any dessert and candies.

I have also stopped myself from buying in too many extras for Christmas or New Year.
For Christmas, I'm watching my weight and health, hubby is type 2 diabetic, and younger son tries to watch his weight too. So I have Xmas Day's menus sorted now.
For New Year, hubby and me as above. Mother-in-law cannot eat too much at any one time. Older son and his girl friend have bigger appetites, but enjoy loads of veggies. I've almost sorted out the menus for that stay. And I want to leave something nice for younger son to have on New Year's Day - he can't join the rest of us as he'll be attending training for the job he's at last managed to find.

I like the idea of eating before going to a party or whatever, to help manage portions and also alcohol.
I also think that it's a good idea to offer to take something to help the catering, and to help yourself.
Another idea is to check the website beforehand, if the venue has one.
I recently started to plan for an event. For instance, I already decided what and how much I'm going to eat on New Years day.
Somehow when I make a rule for myself, I take it just as seriously as if someone else had told me what I can and cannot eat. Report
Only one problem for me - I HATE THE TASTE OF PUMPKIN! :( :( :( All the other ideas are pretty spot on! Report
I plan on celebrating the holidays with the right idea for me. I plan on enjoying the good company and not worry about the food so much. I eat something healthy before I hit a party so I am not so hungry. I also allow myself 1 small dessert I like and not have any carbs and use my dessert as my carb. I load up on veggies and meats. I also keep up on my workouts as they are so important to me. Report
I guess this is part of the reason I make a miss of relatives on Christmas Day (that and all the dogs),. Can't eat what you don't see!! Report

Isn't there a sugar too,a couple of them that are Truvia and Stevia? Or did I spell them wrong? My sister made a mousse dessert for Thanksgiving and she used one of those sugars and it was soooo rich I couldn't finish it. And it wasn't even sugar cane sugar, it was a sugar that diabetics can have. But boy! Was that mousse rich! Wow! Report
I am not trying to loose as I am in maintenance, however, these tips are absolutely great. Love them! Report
I am so excited about this blog. I really needed to be able to figure out how to stay on my plan and somehow allowed for the uncontrollable.
Lucky I like vegetables and have been successful with maintaining for a while.
This sounds like the answer to my prayers. I am going to blog on it daily till January 2nd.. Report
That's exactly what I am aiming to do this holiday season: maintain, not lose. Maintaining will be challenging enough! Report
An additional bonus with Item 3 is that, when you go back for seconds later, your favorites may have run out! Report
I like to just get smaller portions of everything, and savor every morsel. I have found that if I slowly eat, I am more satisfied with my smaller portion.
Moderation is the key, as always! Report
I make some of my favorite recipes with sucralose instead of sugar, and sneak in something beneficial like zucchini or grated apples so I can feel better about eating a bit--and no one else minds or notices! Report