By: Registered Dietitian Megan Hall
The holidays have arrived! This time of year, I typically hear questions on how to enjoy our favorite holiday treats without going overboard and expanding our waistlines. Rest assured, there are ways to enjoy your holiday favorites without overdoing it on the calories, sugars and fats. Try practicing the seven tips below to keep the holiday weight gain at bay.
Don’t forget the most important meal of the day. Amidst family gatherings, office parties and all of the fun and merriment, it’s easy to skip breakfast. Studies show those who eat breakfast tend to eat healthier throughout the day. The ideal breakfast includes whole grains, which are packed with fiber, a good protein source and some fruit or vegetables for added vitamins and minerals.
Stay on track by making a plan before you attend holiday gatherings. Try eating a small snack before you go to any parties or take a healthy dish so you know at least one option is healthy.
Keep portions in mind when filling your holiday plate. Start by filling half the plate with non-starchy vegetables without added creams, sauces and butter. If you’re having a hard time finding enough vegetables to fill this half, think about adding fruits. A quarter of your plate can be filled with starchy vegetables or grains — choose whole grains when possible. And finally, the last quarter of your plate should be filled with lean protein.
Eat slowly. The dinner table is not a race to see who can clear their plate first. It takes your brain about 20 minutes to realize how full you are. For this reason, take time when you’re eating so you don’t overeat. Put your fork down between bites and savor the food. Talk to your family and friends at the table. Conversation makes the meal more enjoyable and gives food time to settle.
Let’s face it, cravings will happen but we can manage pesky cravings during the holidays by not giving in to each and every one. You shouldn’t have to completely cut out foods from your diet unless advised by your physician. Allow yourself to have treats, just not all of them. All foods can be enjoyed in moderation, even holiday cookies.
Stay active during the holiday season. Maintain your normal exercise routine or try to add in 20-30 minutes of movement each day. Burn off calories from your meal by taking a brisk walk with friends and family or dancing at a holiday party. Instead of shopping online, mall walking allows you to window shop and get exercise at the same time.
Finally, get your ZZZs. Even as grownups, we need eight hours of sleep each night. Adequate sleep may aid in eating fewer calories and choosing healthier foods during the day. It may also help give you a needed energy boost to get through all of the holiday festivities.
The holidays can already be a stressful time of year. Don’t create extra stress for yourself by having anxiety about your meal or feeling guilty about that extra piece of pie. By making mindful meal choices and sticking to your exercise routine, you’ll have a happy and healthy holiday season.
Meet the Author
Megan Hall is a Registered Dietitian and Licensed Medical Nutrition Therapist. She attended the University of Nebraska Lincoln and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition and Health Science and Nutrition Science and Dietetics with a minor in Psychology. She completed a Dietetic Internship in Augusta, Georgia, through the Augusta Area Dietetic Internship program. Megan loves being a dietitian because she enjoys helping people create long-lasting improvements to their health. In her spare time, Megan enjoys spending time with her family and running. She has run 9 marathons, 11 half marathons and several other races.
This information is intended for educational purposes only. The material is not a substitute for professional help or medical diagnosis. It is important that you consult a medical professional if this information leads you to believe there is a concern for you or your patient(s). The diagnosis and treatment of all physical and/or psychological disorders requires a trained professional.