Five Tips for Healthy Eating During the Holidays

Five Tips for Healthy Eating During the Holidays

Updated October 2020. 

The holiday season can be a stressful time of year for those of us trying to watch our weight. The extra calories in all of our favorite holiday foods can quickly add up! This year don’t let the holiday season sabotage your diet. Here are five easy tips to keep your calorie intake in check during all the festivities.

Rethink your holiday drink

Typical holiday drinks such as eggnog, hot chocolate, coffee drinks, and fruit punches have a lot of sugar and calories that your body doesn’t need. Many holiday beverages have at least five to 12 teaspoons of added sugar for a 12-ounce size!

Instead, consider swapping with one of the following:

  • Lower-sugar versions of these drinks (for example, sugar-free hot chocolate)
  • Plain lattes/cappuccinos (milk + coffee)
  • Plain milk
  • 100% juice (limit to one cup)
  • Water or seltzer water

Alcohol also has a lot of calories. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends limiting alcohol consumption to no more than one drink per day for men and women. A standard drink is equal to:

  • 12-ounces of beer
  • 5-ounces of wine
  • 1.5-ounces or a “shot” of liquor (like gin, rum, vodka, or whiskey)

To save some calories, try …

  • Wine spritzer (½ wine, ½ seltzer water)
  • Mixed drink with a diet (sugar-free) mixer
  • Light beer

Follow the “balanced plate” rule

At your next holiday meal fill your plate with:

  • 1/2 non-starchy vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, spinach, or peppers
  • 1/4 protein foods such as chicken, turkey, fish, beans, or tofu
  • 1/4 whole grains/starchy vegetables such as brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, or potatoes

Filling your plate with nutritious, low-calorie foods like veggies makes for a guilt-free meal!

Eat a balanced breakfast

Many people try to “save calories” for the holiday meal by skipping breakfast or lunch. This can lead to extreme hungry later on and over-eating at the holiday meal.

Instead, eat a balanced breakfast that includes protein such as:

  • English muffin (whole grain) with peanut butter (protein) + orange slices
  • Oatmeal made with milk (protein) + mixed berries (like strawberries or blueberries)
  • Toast (whole wheat) + hard boiled egg (protein) + banana

Step away from the buffet table

Standing next to the buffet table can lead to overeating due to constant “grazing.” Instead, fill your plate and move to the opposite side of the room. Focus on conversation rather than food.

Eat mindfully

Savor your favorite holiday foods by eating them slowly.  When you eat your food too quickly your brain hasn’t had a chance to send signals to your stomach that you’re full.  However, if you stretch out your mealtime to 20 minutes or more you may find you no longer desire second helpings (which means you’ve saved yourself from a whole lot of extra calories).

Here are some tips to help you slow down.

  • Put your fork down between bites.
  • Drink water between bites.
  • Turn off the TV, phone, and computer! Eat sitting down at the dining room or kitchen table.

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