Let’s Keep Holiday Eating in Perspective

by karen on December 7, 2018

‘Tis the season for fun and celebration, and which celebrations don’t include food? This is particularly true during the holidays: I know as I put my holiday plan together, delicious traditional and seasonal foods will be an integral part of the festivities. Hopefully you’ve had a wonderful Thanksgiving and are getting into the holiday spirit of Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanza.

These holidays often revolve around dinners with family, but we don’t need to feel guilty or avoid the food aspect of the holidays. Rather, we should go into our get togethers with friends and family armed with one simple strategy chosen from the list compiled below. You’ll enjoy yourself as much or more and skip the holiday regret and weight gain that often greets us come the New Year.

Choose Just One of a Dozen Holiday Strategies

Behave Well Rather Than Perfectly

If you are working on losing weight, consider maintaining instead over the holidays
Know that one slip-up does not derail your entire day—don’t allow that as an excuse
Recognize your trigger foods and avoid them most of the time

Maintain 3 Meals Daily

Skipping meals leads to bingeing and “falling off the wagon”
Grazing leads to excess calories, frequently empty calorie ones

Practice Portion Control

Stop eating when you feel satisfied versus full—wait and you’ll be full within 10 minutes
Eat slowly
Use a small plate
Limit the foods you know you should
Eat half a plate of veggies

Factor in Exercise

Ensure you make time to exercise—it’s well worth it as you burn calories, lower stress, improve resolve, and maintain perspective

Avoid Deprivation

There are no foods you need to completely avoid, no matter how high-calorie or low-nutrient
Telling yourself “no” to a food altogether for the entire holiday is a surefire way to binge

Plan Ahead

Save up a few calories in anticipation of parties and larger meals
Have simple, low calorie meals and snacks on hand as alternatives to unplanned temptations and changes in schedules
Practice saying “No, thank you” to food
Take the edge off your appetite before arriving at a get-together involving food—fruit, veggies and broth are filling, low-calorie options
Offer to bring a favorite low-calorie dish to the event—that way you know there’s at least one healthy option you can load up on

Position Yourself Well

Stand away from or with your back to food tables to avoid having the food call to you
Keep your hands full when eating while standing—if you have a beverage in one hand and a food plate in the other, it’s hard to eat
Be sure to have a beverage in hand or food on your plate, even if you don’t consume it—if everyone else is eating and drinking but you’re not, you don’t want to draw that potential attention and pressure

Maintain Party Perspective

Put some non-food events in your holidays like ice skating, watching a holiday movie, or viewing Christmas lights in the neighborhood
Emphasize the social aspect of the party rather than the food
Make every other trip to the bar a low calorie, alcohol-free beverage like diet soda, soda water or water with a squeeze of lime

Stay Hydrated

Dehydration can cause hunger and signal the brain we should eat, when what we really need is water
Fill up on Fiber
Fruit, vegetables, and whole-grains contribute to a feeling of fullness
High-fiber foods offer a host of nutrition advantages
Smaller entree portions can be satisfying when including fiber foods

Manage Stress

Make time for yourself to reflect and regroup
Keep the true reason for the season in mind
Refrain from eating in response to emotions and stress

Be Selective

Take 2 bites of high calorie holiday goodies and be done
Decrease everyday foods you can always have to allow for small amounts of the seasonal foods you don’t normally have
Your body is not a garbage disposal—do not feel pressured to clean your plate if you accidentally serve yourself too much


Now that you have a huge arsenal of simple but effective strategies to help you through any and every potential food obstacle this holiday season, bask in the knowledge that you will get through the holidays with your weight and health goals in check.

Happy Holidays!

Karen Fisher, MS, RDN, CDE is a dietitian in Reno, Nevada, happily promoting the benefits of healthy foods at her nutrition consulting firm, Nutrition Connection. Find her website at www.NutritionConnectionNV.com

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