Company's Coming! 6 Ways to Save Your Diet (cont.)

Use the same logic when making holiday snack foods, Rizzotto says.

"If you are preparing dips, for example, try blending olive oil, garlic, (and) ground black pepper with low-fat yogurt, cottage cheese, or sour cream, and then sprinkle in your favorite herbs," she says. With all those flavors, no one will be able to tell you're serving a low-fat dip!

At the very least, Amidor says, having lower-calorie versions of favorite foods available means you'll be less tempted to overeat the higher-calorie dishes if you do serve them.

4. Serve Meals Buffet-Style

One sure way to guarantee that everyone has something they enjoy is to serve meals buffet-style.

"The buffet is great because you can have mostly the foods that are on your diet plan, with just a few of the super-calorie traditional holiday foods mixed in, so guests can choose to watch their calories or not, without stopping you from watching yours," says Amidor.

This is a particularly useful strategy when it comes to dessert, Rizzotto says.

"You can have fruit, and nuts, and flavored coffees and teas, as well as some higher-calorie treats like cookies or cake," she says. "And in this way, you not only give yourself the option of choosing a healthy treat, you also give that option to your guests, many of whom may really appreciate it."

At any given time, Blatner tells WebMD, some 60% of women and at least 30% of men are either dieting or trying to maintain their weight, so it's likely at least some of your guests will welcome the healthier food options.

5. Issue an Invitation to Exercise

Who hasn't used a house full of company as a reason not to exercise? But even if you love your workouts, you may feel uncomfortable about putting your own needs ahead of your guests.

The way around both situations: Make your houseguests part of your healthy lifestyle, starting with an invitation to join your workout.

"If you belong to a gym or a health club, ask about a guest pass," says Blatner. Most gyms will be happy to oblige (possibly for a small fee). And remember, if they don't want to walk on the treadmill or join your aerobics class, your guests can take a dip in the pool or lounge in the sauna or Jacuzzi or steam bath while you work out.

Many houseguests will be grateful for the chance to keep up their own fitness regimens. Others may welcome an opportunity to try something new and find that joining you in a workout adds another dimension to the visit.

"It kind of says 'Hey, this is my life and I want you to share it with me'," says Blatner. "That can be a very bonding experience for both the hostess and the guest."

The same holds true if you work out at home, with a video or on your own equipment. Invite guests into this part of your life, the experts advise, and make sharing your healthy goals part of the visit.

But what if your houseguest is just not the exercising type?

"When this is the case, tell them at the start of the visit what your workout schedule is and give them the choice of either planning something they can do on their own during that time period -- such as visit with another friend or family member -- or give them some 'alone time' in the house, when they can relax and do what they want," says Blatner.

To help keep them occupied, provide magazines, DVDs, or books they might like, or bring out a family photo album or scrapbook and invite them to learn more about you.

6. Create a New Tradition

While the traditional holiday scenario may involve a big dinner, followed by fighting over who gets the recliner, you could be voted the hostess with the most-est if you plan a physical activity that everyone can enjoy.

"Whether it be a game of touch football or hoops; or, in snowy weather, sledding or building a snowman; or in warm weather, a game of volleyball; or even just a group walk around the neighborhood singing Christmas carols or looking at the lights, the point is to introduce movement and activity into your holiday traditions," says Amidor.

Not only will you benefit from working off some of those extra holiday calories, but also your guests may enjoy the opportunity to do the same.

Says Rizzotto: "When you help someone live a healthier life, that's really showing them how important they are to you, and how much you care."

Published December 16, 2005.
Medically updated December 1, 2006.


SOURCES: Jo-Anne Rizzotto MEd, RD, LDN, CDE, curriculum education specialist, Joslin Clinic, Boston. Toby Amidor, RD, nutrition instructor, culinary department, Art Institute of New York City, New York. Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, Northwestern Memorial Hospital Wellness Institute, Chicago.


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