7 Dietitian tips to cut calories during the holidays

  • 3 Minutes Read
Brenda Braslow
Brenda Braslow, MS, RDN, LDN, CDCES - Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (CDCES)

If you're striving to lose weight or keep that hard-earned weight loss this holiday season, then check out our tips to cut calories. By paying attention to your weight-loss goals as you enjoy holiday traditions, you will come out ahead.

Tips to cut calories

1. Tips to cut calories in your holiday baking

Step away from the batter bowl

If you enjoy holiday baking, you are familiar with batter taste tests–licking the beaters or scraping the bowl of that baked-good to-be. Unfortunately, batter is not only very calorie-dense (every lick adds up), but it could also make you sick if it contains raw eggs. Salmonella enteritidis is a nasty bacteria found in raw eggs that will ruin your holiday!

Only bake what you need

Only double or triple the batch size if making food gifts. Freeze your batter or cookies until ready to send or deliver. Out of sight, out of mind.

Modify ingredients to save calories

Unsweetened applesauce makes a good sugar substitute, while mashed bananas replace butter quite well. Here are some additional baking substitutions.

2. Enjoy parties while keeping tabs on your calories

Eat something ahead

You look forward to the food and drinks served at the party, yet arriving on an empty stomach means a potential diet disaster. Eating something nutritious beforehand is the easiest way to reduce the risk of overeating at parties.

Make a party game plan

Are you craving sweet or savory? Focus on one and skip the other. If you wish to hone in on savory foods at the party, avoid greasy crackers, chips, and deep-fried foods. Enjoy thin slices of fine cheeses with fresh fruit, veggies, or Melba toast instead of buttery crackers or bread. If your sweet tooth is on high alert, then choose a treat that you would never make at home and split it or agree to only one bite.

Bring a dish that fits your eating plan

Instead of asking the host, “What can I bring?” let them know you will bring a favorite vegetable dish to the party. Many fellow partygoers will likely appreciate your dish of healthy veggies.

3. Think petite and picky with rich holiday foods

Be selective and picky

The holidays are a time of excess on so many levels! Suppose you face a table of six different desserts. Instead of trying them all, choose one and move on. And if the dessert looks better than it tastes, dump it. Better to waste than to your waist.

Go mini

Choose mini portions of rich items, such as cheese, dips, and desserts, and savor each bite.

Proper portions can make all the difference

Stay focused on your weight-loss goals with these additional tips to control portions. Savoring a sliver of an indulgence or a bite of something can keep you on target. Remember, we truly enjoy the first few bites of anything the most. Need help reviewing portions? Check out this article on measuring and estimating portion sizes.

4. Make calorie-wise alcohol choices

Choose lighter adult beverages

At a minimum, an alcoholic drink will be 70 calories: 7 calories per gram of alcohol, with a standard "drink" clocking 10 grams of alcohol. Remember, the higher the alcohol content, the higher the calories. In addition, mixed drinks containing flavored liqueurs, syrups, juice, and/or soda add even more calories and sugar.

Choose lower-calorie options such as wine or light beer

One 5-ounce glass of wine or 12-ounce light beer is about 70-100 calories. Save the calories for the food. Match your alcoholic drink with water to stay hydrated. And, of course, never drink on an empty stomach, especially if you have diabetes.

5. Dining out is doable even on a diet

Make healthy choices

You may find you eat out more often over the holidays. This can easily translate into a tighter waistband if you don't pay attention. If restaurants become necessary because you are busy shopping or working late, avoid seeing the meal as "special" and focus on how it can fit into your weight-loss plan. Check out these additional tips for healthy dining out.

Calorie cycling can help you plan ahead for special events

Going out for a special meal? Consider banking calories for that day using MyNetDiary’s calorie-cycling feature. Calorie Cycling, available with Premium membership, allows you to plan different calories for certain days of the week. For example, you can use this feature to anticipate days when you may eat more or less than usual. MyNetDiary will adjust the goals for other days of the week to keep you on track, displaying an Average Food Calorie Budget. Enter, change, or delete your data for this feature under the "Cycling" tab in My Plan.

6. Keep tracking during the holidays

Tracking keeps you focused on good health

Tracking will help you stay accountable and minimize holiday calorie excess. Feeling it is too much to track on certain days of the season? You may find that even “lower-key” tracking, such as tracking a few items like weight, water intake, or exercise, will keep you focused on your health goals.

7. Fill up your holidays with more than just food and drink

While festive food and drink are highlighted in the holiday season, they are only part of this rich and colorful time of year. Focusing on traditions, memories, music, decorations, and the reason for the season helps you remember that the holidays (and life, in general) go deeper than eating and drinking. Cheers to a healthy and happy holiday season!

Related Content

Tips to maintain your health goals during the holidays and beyond

3 Ways to stay on track and stop holiday weight gain

5 Unique strategies to avoid overeating this holiday season

Contributions by Kathy Isacks and Joanna Kriehn

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Holidays / Parties->New Year's Holidays / Parties->Winter Holiday Season
Nov 28, 2022

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