Healthy Holidays: 10 Tips to Healthy Eating During the Holidays

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People toasting over a table

Baked turkey. Christmas dinner. The Christmas table is served with a turkey, decorated with bright tinsel and candles. Fried chicken, table. Family dinner. Top view, hands in the frame

Holidays are here! It’s that great time of the year to celebrate with family, friends, and colleagues enjoying traditional festivities, including delicious foods that are traditionally made with saturated fats, sugars, and sodium. On average, people gain between two to five pounds during the holiday season and may never lose it. Here are 10 tips to help you enjoy the holiday season AND maintain your waistline.

1) Do not skip meals or starve yourself before a big meal and arrive hungry. Instead, eat a light, healthy snack like a handful of nuts, fresh fruit, or vegetables before you go.

2) Avoid or limit high-sugar and high-calorie beverages such as hot buttered rum or eggnog. Alcoholic drinks add even more calories and lower inhibition, which can cause you to eat more. Consider drinking calorie-free beverages like water, tea, seltzer, or alternate between them.

3) Plan time for daily exercise. It reduces stress, gives energy, and helps burn those extra calories you consume during the holidays.

4) Fill half your plate with fruits and veggies first! Don’t feel like you have to avoid your favorite foods, just eat smaller portions of them. 

5) Be mindful when eating. Do not allow conversations to distract you from eating slowly and until you are satisfied, not stuffed.

6) If you over indulge in a meal, do not feel guilty; instead try to eat healthy or less at your next meal to balance out your daily calories.

7) Bring a healthy dish to a potluck or gathering, it is OK to be that person.

8) Socialize and move around away from the food tables. Stand more than an arm’s length away from munchies like bowls of chips and nuts. This way you will not be tempted to keep snacking on them mindlessly.

9) Wait for all the food to be on the table before making selections. People who make all of their selections at once tend to eat 14% less than those who re-fill their plates as dishes are brought out. 

10) Practice these healthy holiday cooking tips:

  • Mashed potatoes — use skim milk or broth instead of whole milk and butter. 
  • Stuffing — use more onions and celery, and less bread. 
  • Gravy — to reduce fat intake, refrigerate the gravy to harden the fat and then skim it off the top. 
  • Desserts — consider substituting two egg whites for one whole egg, replacing heavy cream with evaporated milk, and reducing sugar quantity or using alternative sugar substitutes, like stevia or erythritol. 

The information is based on a Mayo Clinic article by Allie Wegin, RDN.