Holiday Stress, Holiday Health

holiday work party

Thanksgiving can be one of the most joyous holidays of the year, but it can add tremendous stress, not to mention a ton of calories, to your already stressful (and calorie-laden) life if you don’t prepare ahead.

To avoid being one of the average Americans who consumes an extra 600 calories daily between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day (that is over 6 extra pounds), here are some tips for avoiding the stress and extra pounds without losing the holiday spirit:

How to be the Hostess with the Mostess:

Plan Ahead

The Menu – Think Thin: Remember, there is always a way to make it healthier!

  • The turkey: consider using fruits or vegetables to moisten the stuffing instead of butter or other fats; use complimentary seasonings

  • The gravy: plan to serve the turkey au jus – while the turkey is resting, pour the fat out of the roaster, and deglaze the remaining natural juices with white (or red) wine

  • For before-dinner nibbles: serve cut-up vegetables with low-fat dips

  • Sweet potatoes: forget the marshmallows. Instead, layer sliced potatoes with sliced apples and bits of brown sugar and a heart-healthy margarine

  • Serve a good salad (low-fat dressing on the side) and several vegetables instead of the assorted carbs

  • If white potatoes are essential to your menu, bake them and serve with fat-free sour cream and chopped chives

  • Cook the cranberries with sweet fruits (such as pears) to cut way back on the sugar

  • Concentrate on fruit-based, low-fat desserts such as angel food cake layered with lightly-microwaved fruit and served in pretty glasses

woman holding cake

The Preparation: Having MORE than enough time is the key!

  • Clean out the refrigerator and freezer the weekend before the feast so you have plenty of room to organize carefully

  • Complete a detailed shopping list, working from the recipes on the menu

  • Buy non-perishables (such as canned pumpkin and condiments) well in advance, storing them together so they’re easy to find

  • If you’re planning special items such as a fresh turkey or ham, order it in advance, arranging to pick it up or have it delivered a day ahead if possible

  • Working backward, calculate when you’ll have to start preparing each item, how to organize oven temperatures and burner space, and make a careful check-off list to keep in front of you as you prepare the meal.

  • Set the table in advance, working from your menu to lay out serving bowls and serving implements

  • Plan distractions and games for young children to keep them out of the kitchen

  • Make sure your schedule allows at least 20 minutes for you to have a small snack and a relaxing cup of chamomile tea before your guests arrive

The Execution: Delegate, Delegate, Delegate! Few people really like to be guests; often they’ll feel important if they can take an active part…

birthday party with balloons

Healthy Habits … Wherever You Are

Whether you’re the guest or the hostess, avoid over-indulgence during the festivities.

  • Eat a light snack an hour or so before the party so the hors d'oeuvres aren’t so tempting

  • Start your dinner with generous portions of the healthiest and least fattening foods; eat slowly; once your appetite has been sated, reach for small portions of the more calorie-laden choices just as the icing on the cake

  • Limit yourself to one alcoholic drink per hour, making do with low-calorie options such as soda water with a splash of cranberry juice throughout the evening

So... plan ahead, think thin, hold on to those healthy habits and... most importantly… Enjoy the Holiday!