Healthy Holiday Guide

by Laura Coti Garrett, Guest Blogger

Laura Cotti Garrett offered a holiday cooking demonstration, featured here with survivor ambassador, Jamie Tricarico

Laura Coti Garrett offered a holiday cooking demonstration, featured here with survivor ambassador, Jamie Tricarico

Hello! I’m back, to help you navigate close encounters with the tasty drinks, delectable hors d’oeuvres and bountiful buffets that deck our halls. Yes, it’s the most wonderful time of year. It’s also the most caloric. Between the time you carve the Thanksgiving turkey and make your champagne toast to the New Year, it’s easy to gain 10 pounds. Yet, you can enjoy the holidays by taking steps to simply maintain instead of gain.

No matter how diligent you are about healthy eating and exercise, the holidays tend to get in the way because they interrupt routines. Shopping excursions and family engagements might keep you from getting to the gym as regularly. If the elliptical is elusive this month, take 10 minutes — a few times a day — to do some laps around the house and scale the stairs instead.

I’m serious. You can make it happen.

Those who usually find it easy to stick to a healthy eating regimen at work, may meet a carb and sugar seductress, I mean a well-meaning colleague, lurking in the break room: “You have to try these Christmas crumbles, my grandmother only makes them once a year!”

Even those who don’t normally indulge at the bar find themselves ordering an adult egg nog. Warning: drinking alcohol tends to promote hunger; 600 calories later, you’ve consumed one drink and a few hors d’oeuvres. It’s a good idea to avoid beverages that come in those pretty glasses that look like hurricane lamps. Just one could cost you 300 calories. If it comes with a festive garnish or an umbrella, back away from the bar with a club soda and lime alternative.

You can also swap hors d’oeuvres that are fried or made with bread for healthier choices. Think a slice of raw beet or cucumber in place of a cracker, and perhaps a chickpea-goat cheese puree topper, sprinkled with crushed walnuts. If your host asks you to bring something to the party, choose hors d’oeuvres like these that are nutritionally dense and higher in fiber.

Now, let’s advance with strategic precision to the buffet. If you skipped lunch because you were busy or just wanted to conserve calories, this is a potential disaster for your willpower (witness the tower of temptation piled high on your plate because you feel entitled). An apple or small bowl of cereal is ideal to eat before a party to take the edge off your hunger.

Peruse the buffet prior to serving yourself. Instead of lining up at the beginning, plate in hand, scope out the offerings from start to finish. Then, take a spoonful of whatever looks good and sample before going for larger helpings of select items. A final tip: the more expensive and often better-for-you items are usually waaaaaaaaaay at the end of the buffet table, like a turkey carving station or shrimp. Pair these proteins with veggies and you have a recipe for holiday success.

Wishing you the happiest and healthiest of holidays!  Check back next month when we’ll talk more about healthy eating in the New Year.

And don’t forget!  I’m proud to be the chair of the American Heart Association’s 2017 Northern NJ Go Red For Women Luncheon on Thursday, February 23, 2017.  I’ll be doing a live healthy-eating demonstration during the morning educational sessions, so I hope to see you there!  For more information on the Northern NJ Go Red For Women Luncheon, visit


Laura Coti Garrett is a Registered Dietitian and Chairwoman for the 2017 Northern NJ Go Red For Women Luncheon. This post is part of a monthly series featuring Laura’s healthy eating tips.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *