Five Tips for Healthy Holiday Eating
How to watch what you eat and still enjoy the holidays
The winter holiday season is supposed to be filled with joy; but for some the holidays can mean too much food and stress. But don’t let overeating and unrealistic pressures dampen your mood.
Edye Wagner, RD, LDN, CDE, is an experienced, licensed nutritionist, certified diabetes educator and manager of Clinical Nutrition Services at Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital. Here she offers tips to help you control your portions, plan ahead and keep the focus on friends, family and fun this holiday season—instead of food.
Be mindful of the holiday dinners and parties that you will attend and avoid overdoing it on other occasions. Do not risk overindulging by going into the party starving—eat a healthy snack before you leave the house, like fruit or veggies with hummus or low-fat dressing. If the party is at your house, it is also okay to give away or discard the leftover holiday treats so that you do not eat them all week.
Control Your Portions
Dividing your holiday dinner plate into thirds can help prevent overconsumption. Devote one-third for proteins (including dairy), one-third for fruits and vegetables and one-third for starches, which can include a small holiday dessert. Fitting all these items into just one-third of your plate automatically reduces the total amount you eat. Eating the proteins first and saving the starches and sugars for last will also help reduce over-stuffing.
Watch alcohol as well, as drinks can add significant calories. Limit the amount of alcoholic drinks by ordering sparkling water or diet soda instead of your next drink.
Watch What You Eat
Many people respond to holiday stress by overeating simply because there is so much food available at parties and family gatherings. While there is no need to completely avoid your favorite holiday foods, eating them in moderation is key. Take a moment first to think about what you are putting on your plate. In the event that you overdo it, try not to beat yourself up about it.
Consider accountability by keeping a food log either on paper or through an online site on your smart phone or computer. Another option is to meet with a registered, licensed dietitian, who will provide you with the right tools to work through these challenges. To schedule an appointment for Nutrition Counseling at Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital, call 847.535.8000.
Do not forget to balance your increased caloric intake with regular cardiovascular exercises. Lake Forest Health & Fitness Center and Lindenhurst Health & Fitness Center offer a wide variety of opportunities to offset the effects of your holiday indulgences. Group exercise classes, swimming and strength training are all great ways to burn off calories.
Lessen the Stress
Holidays can lead to high (and somewhat unrealistic) expectations about relationships and social interactions. The reality can lead to disappointment when the situation does not live up to your ideals. Financial limitations coupled with gift-giving obligations, family responsibilities and too much to do in too little time can aggravate stress even more.
It is important to acknowledge your feelings and set realistic expectations. Make sure you take time to relax, even if it is just a few minutes of watching TV, listening to music, calling a friend on the phone or putting your feet up and reading. It is also important to exercise, get enough sleep and take good care of yourself during this time.