HO, HO, HO… Holiday Eating Tips to Keep you Feeling Happy & Healthy

By Guest Blogger: Heather Tonkins, Certified Nutritionist)

The holidays… a time for family, festivities, and food!  While it may be “the most wonderful time of the year” according to crooner, Andy Williams, the holidays can also bring frustration if we overeat, don’t get enough physical activity, or get thrown off of our sleep routine due to travel, midnight masses, or late-night soirees.   Here are some tips to help you get through the holiday season feeling healthy, happy, and rested.

  • Don’t skip meals.  Try to stay consistent with your meals as much as possible.  It will be more challenging to manage your blood sugar if you skip meals in an effort to “save up” for the big meal.  You will also be very hungry and more likely to overindulge too.

  •   Eat a small snack before the party.  A light snack like some raw vegetables, a piece a fruit, or a small portion of nuts or seeds will curb your appetite.  Again, you will be less tempted to over-indulge.

  • Volunteer to bring a healthy dish.  Prepare a green salad, roasted vegetables, or fruit platter, so you can ensure that there will be some healthier options available.

  • Take a look at the buffet before you fill up your plate.  Choose your favorite foods and skip items that you can do without.  Balance your plate with protein, grains, vegetables, and fruits.  Keep in mind your portions.  Aim for a naturally colorful plate.

  • Eat off a plate and make sure to take a seat while you are eating.  Do not grab food off the buffet and mindlessly eat while you are standing and talking to friends.  Try to get enough food to satisfy yourself in one serving.  Eat slowly and savor each bite.  Avoid getting seconds. 

  • You want dessert?  Savor it!  Again, make sure to put it on a plate rather than mindlessly eating off the buffet. 

  • Eat until you are satisfied, but do not stuff yourself. 

  • Drink more water.  Avoid soda.  Watch your alcohol intake.  Remember that alcohol may induce overeating and lessen your inhibitions.  It is also high in sugar and calories.

  • If you do overeat, try to eat lighter at your next meal.  It takes 500 calories per day (or 3,500 calories per week) above your normal consumption to gain one pound.  You will not gain weight from one piece of pie. 

  • Exercise daily.  It will help relieve holiday stress and prevent weight gain.  Increase your cardio and/or weight training to offset increased holiday eating.  If your time is limited, try 10 or 15 minute brisk walks a couple times throughout the day.

  • Manage your stress.  Make sure to relax and get enough sleep.  Adults, aim for at least 7-8 hours per night.

  • Spend more quality time with your family and friends.  Play a board game together.  Take a walk or hike.  Volunteer with your family to serve holiday meals to people in need.

While food is typically the main highlight of holiday celebrations, it is important to focus on what really matters… family and friends.  Cherish and relish the quality time you are spending with the people you care for and love!