With family gatherings, office parties, and a seemingly endless stream of get-togethers, packing the pounds over the holiday season can be all too easy.

To prevent ourselves from ballooning like Santa Claus during this most wonderful time of the year, Health Begins With Her sought the expertise of Ma. Cristina Ho, a licensed nutritionist, and Stephen Paulino, a certified TRX coach at Kinematix, about simple lifehacks on how to eat heartily and stay healthy this Christmas and New Year.

And even once this season of parties ends, these same tips can be utilized as we usher in the new year and continue to live a life grounded in wellness. 

 1.  Eat a healthy meal before going to a party. 

Smoked salmon and avocado. Taken from She’Said’

Skipping meals before going to a party is a big NO-NO because this results in overeating when you’re actually at the party.  Often times, party food isn’t as friendly for the waistline as hosts usually pile on the butter, oil, salt, and other flavor enhancers to ensure guests’ taste buds are satisfied.  Those who eat the most important meal of the day, also known as breakfast, tend to consume fewer calories throughout the day.  You may also choose to fill yourself with a healthy fiber-rich snack before a party.

RELATED: 5 Filipino Nutritionists Share What They Eat for Breakfast

2.  Use smaller plates. 

Taken from 7 Portion Control Tips

Small plates are your new best friend when it comes to portion control.  Ideally with a diameter of nine inches, fill your small plate first with the healthy stuff greens, salads, and healthy proteins. Then find room for smaller portions of high-calorie main dishes such as Kare-Kare, Caldereta, Menudo, and the like.  A study by the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research shows that using smaller plates in self-serving situations (parties and buffets) helps reduce food consumption to 30% on average.  Moreover, constant use of smaller plates proves to be a great strategy for weight loss.

3.  Eat high-protein food first.

How to Bake a Turkey Ham in the Oven. Taken from Village Bakery

Remember to pick lean protein choices like chicken, roast beef, ham, and some fishes like tuna and salmon.   Even non-meat sources high in protein are also ideal substitutes to have on your plate. If you’re vegetarian, go for lentils, protein dense veggies like broccoli or beans. For more, ideas on vegetarian sources of complete protein, click the link.

RELATED: 11 Yummy Sources of Complete Proteins for Vegetarians

4.  Skip the refined carbs and fats

Healthy Greek Yogurt Dill Dip. Taken from Robust Recipes

Unless you’re on a ketogenic diet which is grounded on high-fat, it’s wise to avoid full-fat dips to avoid weight gain over the festive season.

Let’s practice mindful eating by choosing yogurt dips over gravy or along with white meat and have fresh greens drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar as dressing.  Pick whole wheat bread instead of the processed white kind.  Should you want rice, opt for the whole-grains like brown or red.

5.  Keep liquid calories in check.

Gin Tonic.  Taken from The Sun

For those ladies who enjoy having a few drinks, choose your poisons wisely!

Try to stay away from cocktails as these beverages tend to be packed with sweeteners and syrups.   For instance, a gin tonic has only 155 calories/7.5 fl. oz. compared to a frozen daiquiri with 450 calories. And, muster all the willpower you can to say NO to carbonated and sugary drinks during meals

To pace yourself in a holiday party, moderation is still the key even with drinks.  Remember to eat before you drink anything.  Food will slow down the absorption of booze, so you’ll be able to think more clearly and remind yourself that having a whole plate of cheese is probably not a good idea.

Water is your best beverage during a party because not only does water have any calories, but also having a glass before a meal helps curb appetite and cravings.

6.  Use low-calorie ingredients when cooking. 


If you’re the hostess of the party, use low-calorie substitutes in your cooking to make your dishes healthier for your guests.  In whipping up the usual macaroni salad, use French or Italian dressing instead of the fattening mayonnaise, then mix in more fruits and veggies like carrots, pineapple, apples, and the like.  For pasta dishes, use fresh tomato sauce or olive oil with herbs in place of the usual red and white sauce in order to cut down the saturated fat and salt content.  And for the all-time favorite fruit salad of us, Filipinos, opt for yogurt instead of cream and condensed milk to lower the sugar and fat content of the dressing.  Lastly, use vegetable or olive oil in place of butter to trim the fat content of whatever dish your cooking.

Keep in mind that food high in sugar, fat, and calories bind receptors in the brain that induce the feeling of pleasure and delight.  Sensory memories of the wonderful, emotional, and addictive feelings reinforce food cravings.

7.  Support digestion during or after eating a hearty meal.

Green Tea. Taken from 4 Essential Natural Ingredients For Fat Loss

It is quite easy to get swayed by friends to drink alcohol or coffee after a great meal.  But drinking alcoholic beverages or coffee right after a heavy meal increases the stomach’s level of acidity which is never good for digestion.  Ask instead for herbal teas which can soothe the stomach and improve digestion.  Bitter teas, specifically, have a history of traditional use for gastric health and can help stimulate the digestive enzymes and bile production which aid in the digestion of fats and protein ─ and this is something we all want.

8.  Get your body moving.

Taken from HIIT Philippines

Coach Stephen advised that even if your gym schedule has been replaced by parties this holiday season, you can still remain physically active by doing some jogging and calisthenics.

Jogging is considered as one of the best and fastest ways of torching calories and fat.  It also helps circulate oxygen in the body.  You can do jogging practically anywhere!

Calisthenics, on the other hand, is one of the cheapest and most effective ways of doing an exercise even at home or outside because it does not require any weight nor gym equipment it utilizes your own body weight.

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