The holiday season brings an abundance of feasts and indulgent foods. We are bombarded with sugary and high-fat treats that are difficult to turn down. In addition, meal planning and exercise are often punted to the back burner to make room for busy schedules.
“The holidays put a lot of pressure on us, in terms of sticking to our wellness goals,” says Melissa Hughes, a registered dietitian nutritionist with Sharp Rees-Stealy. “But you can navigate them without deviating from making healthy choices.”
Hughes offers the following 10 tips for avoiding common diet pitfalls and enjoying the holidays in a healthy way. Don't forget, if you choose to attend holiday gatherings, get vaccinated – and follow masking, hand-washing and distancing precautions.
1. Eat a healthy meal or snack before you go to gatherings.
Filling up on a nourishing meal or snack before arriving can help you avoid overeating at the party.
2. Bring something healthy.
If you’re not sure you’ll find healthy choices at gatherings, offer to bring something, such as a salad, vegetable dish or lean protein.
3. Fill at least half of your plate with fruits and vegetables.
Fruits and veggies are high volume and low calorie, so they will help you to feel full while crowding out calorie-dense foods.
4. Scan the buffet before you start to fill your plate.
Look at what is available and choose your top three foods, instead of filling your plate with options you don’t love.
5. Exercise portion control.
Selecting small portions of indulgent foods will allow you to enjoy a variety of the foods offered, while still controlling your calorie intake.
6. Don’t drink your calories.
Limit sugary and alcoholic beverages to one or two servings. Stick with lighter options such as sparkling water, tea, light beer or wine.
7. Eat mindfully.
Pace yourself and become more aware of what you are eating and drinking. Eat until you are satisfied, not stuffed.
8. Say no politely.
If you feel forced to eat the foods offered to you, learn to say no politely. Try: “No thank you, I couldn’t eat another bite. Everything tasted wonderful.”
9. Focus on socializing.
Make the holiday season about enjoying company, rather than the food.
10. Get moving.
Increasing physical activity can help balance out the additional calories eaten during the holiday season.
Learn more about Sharp’s weight-loss management programs and support by visiting the Sharp Rees-Stealy Center for Health Management.