Top Chef's Gail Simmons Shares Tips for a Healthy Holiday Season

As we make the sprint toward the holidays this week it can get all too easy to get caught up in the hoopla of the season, which is why we enlisted the help of "Top Chef" judge Gail Simmons to share her tips for a healthy holiday from the inside out.

Pass on the passed hors d'oeuvres:
Gail admits she loves bite-sized nibbles as much as the next partygoer, but she says, "At most parties there are about 4-6 different [passed] hors d'oeuvres and you just need one of each." She knows it is tempting to enjoy more than one, but advises one is enough. "You'll get a taste of everything and you don't have to feel badly about eating too much."

Learn to taste: As a "professional eater" Gail is tasked with eating multiple meals for work, but she says the "biggest thing on the show is just learning to taste." Yep, that's right; she doesn't devour every morsel on "Top Chef." "When we shoot, we never finish our plates," she says. "I have two bites of everything. I have a bite of every different component on the plate and then a bite of everything together. That is all you need."

If it grows together, it goes together: This holiday, "You want to eat geographically, [and eat] the stuff that is in season right now." Gail says by eating foods that grow in similar environments, "their flavors will always work together." She points out examples like squashes and sweet potatoes, which are perennial winter favorites.

Snack before soirees: Gail confesses that it sounds silly to eat prior to a party, but explains eating a snack ahead of the festivities can actually keep you from overeating. "I just eat a really good lunch or a snack [like] nuts, whole grains and berries, or a light salad beforehand." Gail actually practices this method as host of "Top Chef: Just Desserts," and eats a good breakfast before sampling sugary treats.

Eat colorfully this season: "The darker the colors…the better it is from a nutrient perspective." Gail suggests choosing some of winter's leafy greens like collards, kale, broccoli, broccolini, or rapini to dress your holiday table. For fruits she recommends snapping up seasonal favorites like cranberries, pomegranates, pears or persimmons, which are rich in vitamins and big on taste.

Keep Your Hands Moisturized: "The thing about cooking is, it is really hard on your manicure and really hard on your hands because you are washing your hands so much," Gail says. She tends to work overtime in the kitchen during the holidays, but as a member of Eucerin's Skin First Council, she thinks it is important to keep her digits delightfully soft. "I have really good hand cream that I put on after I'm finished cooking and before I go to bed at night."

Guilt-Free Holiday: "I don't like feeling guilty about food," she says. Instead she swaps guilt with learning to eat in moderation. Gail loves to indulge in dark chocolate, but says, "I don't need to eat an entire chocolate bar. I'll have two pieces of chocolate." She explains, "As much as we love desserts, desserts serve much more of an emotional purpose in our lives than a nutritional purpose." Make sure you're eating in moderation, and you'll keep your waistline in-tact this holiday season.

Have a happy, healthy holiday season and we'll see you in 2012!