Tis' the season for (more) healthy holiday eating

healthy holiday eating2

Everyone has a favorite holiday dish and it is okay if your favorite dish isn’t a healthy option. Remember one unhealthy side won’t make you gain weight just like one healthy meal won’t make you lose weight! By restricting yourself to only certain foods, which don’t include your favorite holiday dish, you can be left feeling unsatisfied and unhappy even though you are full. Often, you end up eating your favorite dish anyway and then feeling guilty because it wasn’t on your “diet”. Instead of trying to avoid eating your favorite dish, focus on filling your plate up with healthier options first so you only have room for a smaller portion of the unhealthy dish. That way you are full and satisfied after you are done eating! 

Stuff the Turkey…Not Yourself!

It can be challenging to say no when friends and family offer a second helping or beg you to “eat some more, so I don’t have to take it home with me.” It is not rude to politely say no to a second plate or to taking home leftovers. Eat slowly by putting your fork down between each bite and chewing the food about 20 times. Remember, you don’t have to finish everything on your plate just because it is there. Listen to your body and aim to stop eating before you feel full to avoid feeling miserably stuffed, because the only thing that should be stuffed is the turkey!

All I Want for Christmas is that Recipe!

Include your favorite holiday foods throughout the year so they don’t feel as much like a holiday treat. This can help you to avoid overeating them during the holiday season. Ask friends and family for the recipes so you can make them whenever you want. Once you have the recipe you can always make a few changes, like using less sugar or oil instead of butter, to make a healthier version. If they are protective about their recipes, like my great-grandmother was, try to make a To-go plate of your favorite dish, so you can take it home and don’t have to eat it all right then at the party. Instead, you can eat it over the course of a few days.

The Weather Outside may be Frightful but Physical Activity is so Delightful!

It is important to make time for any sort of physical activity or exercise to help keep yourself healthy and avoid weight gain. If it is too cold and you can’t get outside, modify your workouts to things you can do inside. Try to include any sort of exercise that gets your heart rate up, like a quick high-intensity workout or jumping rope or following an online Yoga session or even chair exercises with cans of soup. Aim for 30 minutes of physical activity 3-5 times a week! 

Dear Santa, I can explain…

Don’t let the fear of holiday weight gain, stress you out! Have an accountability partner who supports you but will make sure you are still enjoying the holidays. Talk with your family and see if they would be willing to bring a wider variety of healthier foods, or maybe even try to use modified recipes that are healthier. Be kind to yourself and focus on being thankful for the time you get to spend with friends and family!

Use these tips throughout the holidays to avoid the weight gain. And remember, these changes don’t have to stop after the holiday. Find things that work for you and make healthier choices that can sustain you into the New Year, without restricting yourself to the point that you are miserable and can’t celebrate the end of the Year 2020! Enjoy time with friends and family and be thankful for the people in your life.  Take a step back to reflect on the craziness of the year. Eat, drink and be merry without overindulging.

About the Author

Hannah Duda

Hannah Duda is a Dietetic Intern and Graduate Student in Lamar’s MS in Nutrition program. Hannah earned her BS in Nutrition and Dietetics from The University of Mississippi where she fell in love with helping people through food and nutrition.

In her free time, she enjoys relaxing and watching Grey's Anatomy reruns, cooking and baking, and spending time outside with her friends and family!