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5 Tips to Avoid Holiday Snack Traps


Disclaimer: I’ve partnered with PLANTERS. As always, all opinions are my own. Please read my disclosure statement here.

With the holiday season finally here, do you worry that shorter days and colder temperatures coupled with countless food-focused parties and events will make it even more of a challenge to maintain healthy eating and fitness habits? No matter how hard we try, many of us inevitably succumb to the trappings at holiday events—and all the sweet and savory holiday foods (including snacks and desserts) that define them.

Of course an occasional lapse into the depths of a perfect piece of peach pie or piece of peppermint bark won’t derail you. But while temptations are par for the course this time of year, saying yes too often to snack- or dessert-type foods can leave less room for nutrient-rich and energizing foods in your diet. And if those go-to items are high in calories and fat but provide few nutrients, you may end up feeling sluggish not to mention it’ll be that much harder for you to deal positively with the many stressors that characterize the holiday season (can you say traffic and family fights).

Here are five tips to help you avoid some common snack traps during the holidays and beyond.

The Trap: Too many temptations. Whether you’re greeted by an oversized box of chocolate truffles or giant tin of flavored popcorn in the breakroom, or the overflowing candy jar on your colleague’s desk, or if you find that every kind of dessert under the sun looks beyond amazing, you don’t have to mindlessly succumb. If you simply pick your poison and choose small portions of only your favorite treat(s), and you slowly savor each bite, you’ll see how easy it is to enjoy what you love without going overboard.

Another idea: keep a few day’s worth of nutrient-rich snacks in your desk drawer or purse to taper hunger before an event. These can include any combination of mini cups of unsweetened applesauce, small, pre-portioned baggies of dried, unsweetened fruit (a source of nutrients like potassium and vitamin A depending on the kind you choose), PLANTERS Unsalted Dry Roasted Peanuts or PLANTERS Cocoa Peanuts (with protein and a natural source of fiber and multiple vitamins and minerals and better for you fats), dry roasted edamame (rich in protein and fiber), whole grain crackers (rich in fiber) and whole fruits with peels like clementines and bananas (with fiber, vitamins and minerals, and antioxidants).

 

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The Trap: Guilt-induced grazing. We’ve all had those moments when we’ve been at a relative’s house for a holiday dinner or at some type of holiday party where we know the host(s) have taken great care to put together an unforgettable spread (including snacks and desserts). We might eat more than we’d like to out of fear for offending the host(s). Instead of allowing guilt to to take over, let hunger be your guide—even when you’re at Grandma’s house! If you know food will be aplenty, arrive slightly hungry rather than ravenous. Choose only the foods you enjoy the most and be sure to show the host(s) that you’re tasting, enjoying, and truly appreciating what they’re serving. When you know you’ve had enough to eat, sip from a glass of sparkling water and spend the rest of your time socializing with family and friends.

The Trap: Mindless munching. If you know that during the holidays you tend to eat with abandon, especially in between meals or late at night, stay accountable by keeping track of your food and beverage intake for a few days on either end of the holiday event. Simply writing down what and how much you eat is a great way to stay mindful of your choices as well as keep calorie intake and portions in check. And when you eat, limit distractions and pay attention to the food as much as you can so you taste and enjoy it. When you know you’ve had enough to eat, pop in a breath strip or strong mint or put on some lipstick to signal the end of eating.

The Trap: “There’s nothing healthy to eat!” Even if most of the food you find at a holiday dinner or party seems to be of the high-calorie, high-fat, nutrient-poor variety, you can always find the fruits and vegetables if you look for them. But if there’s nary a fresh fruit or veggie platter or even fruit-filled tart or pie to be found, look for the nuts and seeds (with protein and healthy fats) and small cubes or slices of cheese (rich in calcium) and whole grain crackers (rich in fiber) to snack on. If those are also unavailable, choose whatever foods appeal to you—but keep portions small and limit yourself to a small plate or two.

The Trap: Stress eating. Who hasn’t, at one point or another, reacted to a family fight at the dinner table or a skirmish between coworkers at a company holiday party by helping themselves to a second—or third—piece of pie or cookie? Because stress eating will likely only help you feel better during the seconds you’re biting into that comfort food, it’s prudent to find healthier ways to cope. Taking a walk outside for some fresh air, going into a different room to cool off or listen to music or talking with an understanding family member or friend are far more productive and less sabotaging methods for shaking off whatever is bothering you and not letting the stress of any situation sabotage your otherwise healthful habits.

How do you sidestep holiday snack traps?

Disclaimer: I’ve partnered with PLANTERS. As always, all opinions are my own. Please read my disclosure statement here.

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About The Author

Elisa Zied is a nationally recognized registered dietitian nutritionist, author, speaker, and spokesperson. A trusted source of food, nutrition, and health information, Elisa has garnered millions of media impressions, lending her expertise and real-world perspective to dozens of TV shows, web sites, news organizations and magazines. She’s the author of four nutrition books and is currently working on her first novel. You can find her previous Food, Fitness & Fiction posts here and connect with her on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and Facebook.

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