5 Healthy Eating Tips for the Holidays
Grace Weatherby
/ Categories: WELLNESS, 2023

5 Healthy Eating Tips for the Holidays

The holidays are filled with joy and temptation. From cookies and cocktails to pecan pie and second helpings of latkes and leftovers, it’s no wonder that over 90% of people gain weight over the holidays.

Fortunately, there are strategies that can help you avoid unwanted weight gain at this—or any—time of the year. Here’s where to start:

1. Don’t skip meals. While it sounds like a good idea, skipping meals/saving calories to indulge later often leads to overeating. Instead of skipping meals entirely, just go lighter. That is, eat at the same time but cut back on your normal portion. If possible, include fruits or vegetables that may help you feel full.

2. Be a mindful eater. When you’re at an event with lots of options, approach the table with a plan. To begin with, use a small plate and fill up first on high-fiber, low-calorie foods like raw fruits and vegetables. Follow that up with any lean proteins, like chicken or shrimp. The beauty of proteins is that they work to slow your digestion and make you feel full. If you’re indulging in carb-heavy foods, like bread, chips, pasta and the oh-so many sweet options, save them for last so that you’re less likely to overindulge. There’s no reason to deprive yourself of the foods you enjoy. You just need to do it in moderation.

As you navigate a table, be sure to give yourself time to enjoy every bite and take a break between ‘courses’ so that your body and mind can really register how hungry or full you feel.

3. Choose your beverage wisely. An often-overlooked source of holiday calories is beverages. Eggnog, fruity cocktails, and sodas are all packed with calories that tend to go down easy. Avoid sugar-rich beverages and opt for low- or zero-calorie seltzers and water. If you do choose to drink alcohol, choose mixers with little or no sugar and follow up every alcoholic beverage with a glass of water or a mocktail—a cocktail without the liquor.

4. Have the cookie. Food is an important part of the holiday experience. Don’t deny yourself the pleasure of your favorite cookie, cake, or fried goodness. Take a single or small portion and truly savor it by eating slowly and intentionally. You may find that a single serving is just enough to satisfy your holiday craving.

5. Get moving. Taking a walk after you eat is good for your digestion and is a sure-fire way to avoid having seconds (or thirds). Go it alone or enlist others to walk with you, even if just for 10-15 minutes.

Staying busy with activities that don’t revolve around food is a good idea throughout the holiday season. Consider participating in or planning things like wreath-making workshops, a walking or driving tour of the local holiday lights, building a gingerbread house, caroling, or serving a holiday meal to the homeless.

If you do find yourself overindulging, don’t be too hard on yourself. Tomorrow is another day and another opportunity to eat smart.  

 

Kristin Irace, RD, is a registered dietitian at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center

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