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Plan Ahead for Healthy Holiday Eating

Nov 20, 2017

Why wait until New Year’s to make a healthy resolution? Instead, why not try now?

From pecan pie on Thanksgiving to cocktails on New Year’s Eve, it can be rough getting through the holiday season without gaining extra weight. To help keep yourself in check, think about setting a resolution early.

You must be realistic, however. Going on a restrictive diet this time of year is not advised and could backfire. Alternatively, try setting a goal to simply maintain your current weight during the holidays. It could make for a much happier holiday season.

Here are some tips to refrain from overindulging and keep the extra pounds off, while still enjoying the festivities. 

  • Limit your proportions and eat until you’re full, not stuffed. If you look forward to Grandma’s special marshmallow-covered sweet potatoes on Thanksgiving, don’t deny yourself, but think about having only a few bites. Use a smaller plate and rest before you go back for seconds, giving your brain time to register it’s full. And if you overindulge at one meal, simply scale back and eat healthier at your next meal.
  • Don’t drink your calories. Some eggnogs have well over 300 calories and 19 grams of fat in a one cup serving. Additionally, too much alcohol can increase your appetite, lessen your inhibitions and cause overeating, while non-alcoholic sodas can be full of sugar and calories. Try drinking water before indulging in high calorie drinks. It will help you feel fuller and be less dehydrated.
  • Keep moving. It’s easy to forgo exercise this time of year. Although merry, the holidays can also be stressful and full of tension. Exercise may be the first thing to drop off your busy to-do list, especially since it gets darker earlier and colder weather is approaching. Make sure exercise is just as much of a priority as wrapping presents. It will not only keep your waistline from growing, exercise will help you feel better mentally, keep your metabolism going and give you more energy.
  • Make healthier versions of holiday favorites. With a few substitutes, you can trim fat and calories from rich foods. Substitute skim or low-fat milk for whole milk or heavy cream. Replace oil or butter with nonfat yogurt or applesauce in baking. Use herbs and spices to season vegetables instead of butter. Search online for healthy substitutes or visit websites like the American Heart Association’s for nutritious recipes.
  • Don’t go on an eating spree when you go on a shopping spree. Make sure you visit the mall with a full stomach. Otherwise the smell of cinnamon rolls, homemade pretzels or delicious cookies could ruin your self-control. Fill up on healthy snacks before leaving home or bring some with you when you shop. That way you won’t be tempted to take a detour through the food court.

Following these tips can help you achieve a resolution to not overdo it during the holidays and gain unwanted extra pounds. By the time January rolls around, you’ll be proud of yourself for eating sensibly and be in an even better position to tackle a weight loss or healthy lifestyle resolution in the New Year. 

Amanda Smith, MS, RD, LD, is the Registered Dietitian at Forrest City Medical Center.