Healthful Holiday Eating

Worried that enjoying a traditional holiday meal and party foods with family and friends will destroy healthful food habits you’ve been practicing all year? The good news is any foods, even beloved holiday dishes, can fit into a healthful eating plan with practice and planning.

Following some of these tips will help you plan for the rest of this holiday season. For starters, trying to lose weight during the holidays may be a self-defeating goal. Instead of trying to shed pounds, strive to maintain your current weight.

  1. Do not skip meals. In preparation for a big holiday party or feast, do not skip meals throughout the day. This can result in overeating later. Start your day off with a normal breakfast to get your metabolism going.
  2. Portion control. Using a smaller plate is a strategy that allows you to put less food on your plate. Plate sizes have been increasing over the years, and this can make your meal less visually appealing. Using smaller plates will make your brain satisfied with the amount of food on it.
  3. Increase leafy greens and veggies. Start by filling your plate with vegetables and salad before going to the entrees and desserts. Research shows eating a salad before your meal can help you eat fewer calories overall.
  4. Slow down! Eat slowly and savor every bite, and before you go back for seconds, wait 10 minutes to see if you really are still hungry. Taking a walk after dinner can also be a good idea to improve digestion, get fresh air, and decide whether or not we want that 2nd helping!
  5. Sit down. Research has shown that designating one or two places in the home and at work for meals is beneficial in practicing mindful eating, and can help us to achieve our weight loss goals. Even if we aren’t at our home during the holidays, we can still sit down at a table with your plate and enjoy.
  6. Remember, conversation is calorie-free, and you may eat less if you settle into the festivities instead of heading straight to the buffet.
  7. Smart drink choices. Some alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks can really rack up the calories during holiday events. Egg nog, apple cider, and hot chocolate are some festive drinks that can unknowingly increase our intake.

You can try just a few of these strategies, and avoid holiday weight gain while still enjoying friends, family and the holiday feast!

* Adapted from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics