5 Dietitian tips to cut calories during the holidays

  • 2 Minutes Read
Katherine Isacks
Katherine Isacks, MPS, RDN, CDCES - Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (CDCES)

If you're struggling to lose weight or want to maintain that hard-earned weight loss this holiday season, then check out these 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 baked holiday treats

If you enjoy holiday baking, then you are familiar with batter taste tests-licking the beaters or scraping the bowl of that baked-good to-be. Not only is the batter very calorie-dense (so those bites add up), it could also make you sick if it contains raw eggs. Salmonella enteritidis is a nasty type of bacteria found in raw eggs that will keep you running to the bathroom!

Only bake what you need. Don't double or triple the batch size unless it's for gifts. For gifts, freeze your batter or cookies until you can send them immediately to avoid easy-reach temptations.

Modifying the ingredients in your baked goods results in significant calorie savings. Unsweetened applesauce makes a good sugar substitute for sugar, while mashed bananas replace butter quite well. Here are some additional substitutions to consider when baking.

2. Parties

You are looking forward to the food and drinks served at the party, and yet arriving on an empty stomach means a recipe for disaster. Practice healthy holiday eating, and make sure to eat something before you go. It's the easiest way to reduce the risk of overeating at parties. Ideally, eat a high-protein meal with veggies (e.g., salmon with sauteed spinach, chicken breast with a salad). Also, consider saving your typical meal carbs for the party.

Note: If you take insulin or certain diabetes medications, then be very careful about adjusting your meals to not accidentally get a low blood sugar.

Have a game-plan for the party

Are you craving sweet or savory? Focus on one and skip the other, a tried and true answer among dietitian tips to cut calories. If you are going to hone-in on savory foods at the party, avoid greasy crackers, chips, and deep-fried foods. Enjoy fine cheeses with fresh fruit or Melba toast instead of buttery crackers or bread.

Bring a dish you know you can eat

Instead of asking the host, "What can I bring?" let him/her know you will bring a favorite vegetable dish to the party. By loading up on this dish first, you'll be assured to eat something that fits into your eating plan. Plus, most people at the party are probably avoiding overindulgence as well. So they'll be relieved when they see your healthy veggie dish on the table.

3. Healthy holiday eating includes portion control

The holidays are a time of excess on so many levels! Suppose you are confronted with 6 different desserts? Instead of trying all of them, choose one and move on. And if the dessert looked better than it tastes, dump it.

Limit your portions of high-calorie, high-fat items, such as cheese and dips. Need help reviewing portions? Check out MyNetDiary's portion guide.

Stay focused on your weight loss goals with these additional tips to control portions.

4. Alcohol

At a minimum, an alcoholic drink will cost you 70 calories: 7 calories/g alcohol, with a standard "drink" providing 10 grams of alcohol. The higher the alcohol content, the higher the calories. Mixed drinks containing flavored liquors, juice, and/or soda add even more calories.

Stick to lower-calorie options such as wine or lite beer. One 5 fl oz glass of wine or 12 fl oz of light beer is about 70-100 calories. Generally, avoid eating AND drinking your calories at parties. If you choose to drink, then eat a balanced meal beforehand and match your drink with water to stay hydrated.

5. Dining out

You may be eating out more frequently, translating into extra calories and weight gain if you aren't paying attention. Going out for a special meal? Consider banking calories for that meal using MyNetDiary's calorie-cycling feature.

If dining out is necessary because you are busy shopping or working late, avoid seeing the meal as "special" and focus more on "nourishment." Check out these additional tips for healthy dining out.

Whatever approach you take, remember to track consumption during the holidays. Tracking will help you stay accountable and minimize holiday calorie damage. While food and drink are important aspects of the holiday season, they are only part of this rich and colorful time of year. Cheers to a healthy and happy holiday season!

More Resources

This blog was reviewed and updated by: Joanna Kriehn, MS, RDN, CDCES on November 5, 2020.

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Holidays / Parties->New Year's Holidays / Parties->Winter Holiday Season
Nov 9, 2020

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