By Dr. A. Peraino, Board-certified Internist and AMEC Member
The holidays are upon us and that means food, and lots of it! At family gatherings, work parties, religious and cultural celebrations, it can be easy to over-indulge. Research suggests that most people gain 2-3 pounds over the holiday season, which is less than many fear or anticipate. But the real problem is that most people don’t lose the weight afterwards, which accumulates over time. Don’t worry - you don’t need to deprive yourself. It is possible to make smart, healthy choices and still enjoy all the holiday cheer! Here are 8 tips for healthy holiday eating to keep you feeling festive, prevent increased weight, and keep your heart happy!
1. Eat small and nutritious meals prior to going to a party or don’t go to an event famished.
This would set you up to eat more later in the day or at the party. We make better food choices when we are not overly hungry.
2. Limit your alcohol intake.
Alcohol diminishes your ability to control what you eat and adds on empty calories. Enjoy a glass of wine or a cocktail in moderation and alternate drinking non-alcoholic beverages to help you stay hydrated.
3. Make fruits and vegetables part of your party plate.
Fruits and veggies can help fill your stomach and balance your savory and sweet food indulgences.
4. Get moving and stay moving!
Regular activity is a key factor in weight maintenance, so walk together with your family and friends. Schedule exercise into your daily routine during the holidays to help decrease stress and subsequently, emotional and stress eating.
5. Socialize away from the food tables to minimize mindless eating.
It’s ok to choose a few appetizers before a meal but mindless snacking will leave you feeling full before the main dinner course.
6. Be buffet savvy!
Take time to view all the options at the buffet before you start making your selections. This allows you to see what you really want and save room on your plate for your favorite dishes.
7. Take a break before getting second helpings.
Give yourself a 10-minute break between servings so you can figure out if you are still really hungry. This prevents overeating, but also leaves space for dessert! In most instances, this is not your only chance to eat your favorite meal if you can save some for leftovers for another serving the next day.
8. Be deliberate with your food choices.
It’s OK to eat dessert or your favorite holiday dish, just balance your meals with moderation. Be aware of portion sizes and focus on enjoying the items you really want to eat.
The holidays are a time to celebrate with family, friends, and loved ones with favorite recipes and traditions. Don’t feel guilty about enjoying the holiday. Don’t skip your favorite dishes. Instead, be intentional with your food choices, focus on moderation, and skip the items you really don’t like or affect your wellbeing. There is no need to feel guilty or that you are missing out if you focus on a well-balanced and moderate approach to eating. In the long term. It will help you feel satisfied and build a healthy relationship with food- even during the holidays!