A dietitian’s 7 tips for a healthy holiday

December 04, 2023 | by Endeavor Health
Categories: Healthy Driven Life

Food is one of the best parts of the holiday season.

From big holiday dinners to festive beverages and desserts, it’s an integral part of the celebration.

“Along with the parties, hot chocolate, hors d'oeuvres, cocktails, sweets and eating on the go often comes added stress, which can lead to more eating,” said Ann Schubert, RD, LDN a clinical dietitian with Endeavor Health.

Given that food and the holidays go hand in hand, how should someone who wants to continue to eat healthy operate this time of year? Schubert suggests these tips.

  1. Plan ahead. Start each week by planning dinners, stocking healthy snacks and scheduling your workouts. Familiar recipes will take less time and reduce stress.
  2. Eat before you leave for the party. Eat something small before you face party food and drinks, that way you won’t arrive with an empty stomach and overdo it. Try some fruit, vegetables, a handful of nuts or some Greek yogurt before you head out the door.
  3. Step away from the buffet. Most holiday get-togethers include a buffet or hors d'oeuvres table. Once you fill your plate with one layer of food, walk away from the table. Try to focus on fresh salads, crudités and lean proteins like shrimp, turkey and ham. Avoid high-calorie breads, pasta and sugar and/or cream-laden items.
  4. Eat slowly. The slower you eat, the less you'll eat. It takes your brain 15 minutes to register when your stomach is full.
  5. Drink up (water, that is). Drink plenty of water throughout the day, especially during a feast or while drinking alcohol (alternate a glass of water with each alcoholic drink). "Water will keep you hydrated, which increases your energy level by delivering oxygen and nutrients to all the cells in our body and reduces overeating," Schubert said.
  6. Make treats small.  Allow yourself a small dessert. Be selective and savor it.
  7. Sneak in more veggies. Add more vegetables into each course when you cook. Making mashed potatoes? Try making them half potatoes and half cauliflower. You can add steamed, pureed vegetables into almost any dish. Add pureed butternut squash to your macaroni and cheese —you will increase the nutritional value and decrease the calories per serving, and no one will know the difference. 

Talk to your doctor or dietitian before starting a new meal plan. They can give you the support and tools you need to make smart food choices. Get more Healthy Driven recipes.

Need a doctor? Find the right one for you at Edward-Elmhurst Health.

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