Expert Health Articles

Holiday Eating

The holidays are a busy time of year, and it can be easy to get off track with your eating habits. Even though you get busy, don’t forget to take the time to eat throughout the day. When you skip a meal, it can lead to overeating at the next meal. Try to plan out your meals for each day or even better, the week. When you plan a meal, keep each food group in mind to ensure you get a balanced diet.

When attending holiday parties, be selective of your food choices. Take smaller portions by using a smaller plate. Remember, you can have leftovers for another meal, so you don’t feel the need to overfill your plate. Pick only your most favorite carbohydrate foods, try to keep portions to a quarter part of your plate and fill in the rest with non-starchy vegetables. If you are concerned that there’s not going to be any healthy dishes, then bring one to share.

A problem at most parties is all the temptations that can lead to consuming extra calories. Try not to socialize by the food table. It’s very easy to graze at the food table when you are standing next to it. Only go through the food line once and try not to go back for seconds. Most of the time, if you eat slowly, you will recognize when you start to feel full. It takes 20 minutes for your brain to get the message and then you will be less likely to go back for seconds. You should also limit consumption of empty calories through beverages such as alcohol. Instead, choose calorie-free beverages or find lower calorie alcoholic beverages.

Exercise is extremely important during the holidays. Finding opportunities to be physically active is the key. You can go for a walk or do exercises at home by following along with a video or app. Getting ready for the holidays can be stressful. Be mindful of stress eating and instead find a healthy alternative. Exercise is a great stress reliever, along with meditation.

The holidays and gatherings usually revolve around food. This year try to start a new tradition of rejoicing in the holiday spirit by Christmas caroling or making decorations. Focus on one or two things at a time, so you don’t become overwhelmed and don’t expect to shed pounds over the holiday. You should set a realistic goal of maintaining your weight and try to be mindful of what and how much you are eating. Also, get plenty of sleep and rest. Lack of sleep can often lead to poor food choices and, ultimately, weight gain. Most importantly, have fun and enjoy the holiday season!

Julie Russell, RD, LD, CDE

Outpatient Dietitian/ Diabetes Educator

Blanchard Valley Diabetes Center