By Shira Lenchewski, MS, RD
As we know, the holiday season is often synonymous with a sweets and sugar free-for-all, leaving people embarrassingly full. And that’s just where the regret begins. So how can you enjoy your seasonal faves without feeling terrible, and without the guilty aftertaste? It’s all about having a game plan. Here’s mine:
This or That: Easy substitutions in your kitchen or out on the town
Eggnog —> Ginger Champagne Cocktail
Between the eggs, cream, sugar, and bourbon, a glass of eggnog can easily exceed 300 calories and 20 grams of sugar. So unless this is your all-time favorite holiday splurge, I suggest toasting with a lighter holiday libation, like a ginger champagne cocktail. (Try using coconut sugar instead of refined sugar!)
Candied yams —> Rustic Roasted Yams
Since yams have a natural sweetness already, I recommend ditching the added sugar, and adding extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, pepper, rosemary and thyme for a rustic effect. I like cutting mine into thin rounds and roasting at 375 degrees for around 30 minutes to get some browning action.
Mulled wine —> spiced (sugar- and sulfite-free) wine
Opt for warming, seasonal spices and flavors like cinnamon, clove, star anise, and orange zest over sugar-laden add-ons like honey.
White potato latkes —> Hybrid latkes with russet potatoes, zucchini, carrot, and dill
The past couple years I’ve experimented with “lighter” latke recipes, but they wound up feeling too light, and too far removed from the old-school ones my grandma used to make. So this year, I decided to combine good old-fashioned russet potatoes with zucchini, carrot, and dill. And I’m pretty sure even my Grandma would have approved.
6 Tips for Holiday Eating
1. Avoid skipping breakfast and lunch. Many people restrict meals earlier in the day before holiday festivities, so they can “cash-out” on the feast. Unfortunately, this sets up the body for intense cravings and a virtually insatiable appetite, leading to epic overeating and stealthy pants-unbuttoning. And speaking of pants…
2. Wear real pants. While it's only natural to gravitate towards those modal and spandex blended leggings, form-fitting clothing can make you more conscious of how full you really are. Rag & Bone skinnies, anyone?
3. Snack smart. Plan on having a high-fiber snack a few hours before mealtime, such as hummus and crudités. This will help prevent that “hollow-leg” hunger, so that you can slow down and actually savor what’s on your plate.
4. Go green. Aim to have about half of your plate composed of green veggies. These guys pack a serious fiber punch, and will help you control your portions of starchy sides.
5. Spice it up. Replace sugar-laden extras like marshmallow fluff with warm spices such as nutmeg, ginger, and cinnamon (a natural appetite suppressant).
6. Dessert: Enjoy it. Like, really enjoy it. If you're itching for some pie (cake, brownie, etc.), plate yourself a sensible sliver of dessert, and make it count (no need for sneaky bites out of the box). And don’t beat yourself up afterwards. Contrary to public opinion, taking yourself on a long guilt trip does not burn off that cake!
Shira Lenchewski, MS, RD (Registered Dietitian) has a strong science foundation, and a meaningful understanding of the interplay between food and the body. Pulling from her Nutritional Science Master’s education at NYU, and her deep love of good food, Shira is skilled at designing sustainable and realistic eating plans that work for even the most demanding lifestyles. Shira is the resident nutrition expert at LaurenConrad.com, and has been featured on Glamour.com, POPSUGAR Fitness, Refinery29, The Real Girl’s Kitchen, and Fitness Magazine, amongst others. Shira’s approach is built on a clean-eating lifestyle, emphasizing whole, organic foods with big flavors. She currently resides in Los Angeles with her husband.