Surviving the holidays: Tips from a dietitian
Grazing and snacking your way through holiday parties or tasting as you cook during the holidays can lead to overeating. When you eat this holiday season, be present to relish the moment, and keep these tips in mind.
- Drinks can pack a punch. Be aware of just how many calories drinks can throw into the mix and decide whether your personal budget can afford them. If you drink a lot, you won’t have much control over what you eat.
- Think big, bold flavor. Seasonal orange and yellow squashes and root vegetables provide fall comfort food. Orange, red and green citrus fruit brings sparkle to the table and a boost to your immune system. Take the fruit and veggie challenge to increase your personal nutrient-benefits package. Women should aim for 5–7 servings a day, while men should shoot for 7–9 servings.
- Time to downsize. Consider reducing your portions. When eating out, order appetizers or split an entrée with a friend. Portions have evolved two to five times larger than they used to be. Ask your server for a box to save the remainder for tomorrow’s lunch. Outsmart the buffet by going for the smallest plate.
- Increase your step count. Hot-foot it 10,000 steps a day to a lighter, leaner, less-stress you. It’s not a bad idea for the holidays — plus, it gives you a jump on your New Year’s resolutions. So clip on a pedometer and watch the miles creep up. Regular physical activity is a major part of a healthy lifestyle.
- Prepare for holiday parties. Eat a breakfast of champions! It will improve your odds of making healthier choices (and consuming fewer calories) the rest of the day.
While you primp for the party, sip your way through a tomato juice or warm cup of simple soup so you don’t arrive hungry. Simple soup recipe: Chicken or vegetable broth, cilantro or flat leaf parsley, 1/8 cup mini pasta pieces such as orzo. Microwave 2–3 minutes.
At the party, sip sparkling water as you mingle. Focus on friends, fun and conversation. If you drink alcohol, consume it with a meal and pace yourself. Decide ahead of time how much you’ll allow yourself. Then party on!
- Fill up, not out on bulk foods. High-fiber, low-calorie foods such as what you find on a crudité platter and fresh seasonal fruit are healthy options. Your brain’s appetite center responds to volume, so filling up on lean foods can really work to your advantage, helping you feel satisfied without tons of calories.
- Drink plenty of water. Just say "cheers" to eight or more glasses of water. Remember, it is the volume concept that sends a message to your brain to moderate your appetite.
- Be a sweet snob. Limit your sweet tooth to only what is the absolute yummiest to you — for some, it’s chocolate.
- Keep exercise a priority. Find reasons to get up and walk at work to the mailroom or to a fellow employee’s office. Stay active while traveling by walking between flights. Sign up for a Christmas walk or run. Plan for winter exercise such as snowshoeing, skiing or sledding.
This story was originally published in November 2015 and updated in December 2016.
About The Author
Bev Utt, MS, MPH, RD, is a wellness nutritionist and health educator with MultiCare's Center for Healthy Living. More stories by this author