Easter Brunch (or How to Survive Holiday Eating)

[Originally posted April 15, 2014. But I thought it was worth repeating!]

It seems to me like there is always a reason to celebrate. We've barely come up for air from "the Holidays" (i.e. November and December), when the Superbowl hits us. Then it's Valentine's Day, St Patrick's Day, Passover and Easter, the list goes on. It seems to be that surviving holiday eating is really just surviving LIFE with friends and family.

Whatever holiday you may be celebrating this week (or any other week), here are some quick tips for coming out on top.

1. Moderation!

There are certain foods that we save for holidays or special occasions. It's ok to enjoy them, but just enjoy a few bites, not a few servings! For instance, on Easter I love a good sweet bread - monkey bread, cinnamon roll, Challah bread, you name it. If it's bread-like and sweet, I want it. So I have a small bite and move on.

2. Be Mindful.

Know what you're eating, and enjoy it. If you're like me, you might tend to sample while you're cooking, or hover while others are in the kitchen, and you take a bite just to "ensure quality". Before we sit down, I've eaten half a meal already, but none of it was satisfying. Instead, be mindful when you eat, and savor each bite. It makes the whole moderation thing easier!

3. Offer to Help.

Bring a dish that you know you like, and you know is "safe" for your nutrition goals. Find healthier versions of favorites on websites like Cooking Light or Eating Well. Not only does it keep you in check, but it helps your friends and family make better choices, too!

Don't cook? Offer to bring the plates. I can't take credit for this advice, but it's come to be one of my favorites! I know it sounds a little strange, but hear me out. Plates come in many sizes. People tend to fill their plates regardless of the size they are given. So what if you just used smaller plates? You'd probably eat less. Instead of bringing entree plates, bring salad plates. Again, this helps both you and your friends and family. (Of course, the next trick is not to fill the plate more times to make up for its size!)

4. Don't Show up Starving.

Trust me, if you show up to a buffet-style meal hungry, You.Will.Eat. And you'll eat more than you intended to. Many people think that they will "save" their calories for the big meal. But what usually ends up happening is that you eat more than you would have, and you have confused your metabolism, making your body more likely to hold onto all the extra food you just ate. Totally not the goal.

Instead, don't skip meals. In fact, eat a snack before you go. And eat something that will curb your appetite for a bit, like a small handful of nuts or an ounce of cheese and a couple crackers. 

5. Drink Your Liquor Straight

In one of my first lectures in graduate school, our professor said, "If you're going to drink, drink your liquor straight." It made me laugh - this is what a degree in nutrition is about?! But it's true! Don't waste your calories on all the mixers - that's where you get into trouble. And if you do "mix" with something, keep it calorie-free. I like a nice club soda or LaCroix*. Easter brunch may tempt you with mimosas. Yum! Instead of making a traditional 1:1 mix of sparkling wine and OJ, make a 1:1 mix of sparkling wine and a citrus-flavored LaCroix, then add just a splash of OJ at the end for color.

These tips can help you feel satisfied at social events, while still fitting into your favorite pair of jeans! What are some of your favorite tips?

*I am not affiliated with LaCroix, I just happen to love their products. This is my personal opinion, not an ad!

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Katie Goldberg

Katie Goldberg, MCN, RDN, LDN, has been a registered dietitian since 2013, but has always had a passion for good food and a healthy lifestyle. Katie earned her Master’s of Clinical Nutrition from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and has worked in private practice, higher education, in a clinical setting, and as an in-house dietitian for a food company. Whether it's at through large groups or one-on-one, Katie enjoys connecting people with easy and practical solutions for better health.