Plan on a Healthy Holiday Season


by Jeannie Versagli, RDN, CN

On average Americans tend to gain one to two pounds of weight per holiday season.

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Creating a healthy plan for staying on track with holiday eating and exercise is a way to avoid the trap of gaining those extra pounds. Make a holiday plan with your family to include adjusting family favorite recipes into healthier versions by making alternate choices with ingredients that provide wholesome nutrients. This might be a great time to start a new tradition in the form of exercises such as hiking or to take a holiday tour with your family. Staying active is a key component in warding off unwanted body weight.

Consider some of these pointers that others have tried and found to be helpful in keeping their weight stable during this time of the year:

  • At a large meal, start by making a trip around the table and then choose the foods you really want to eat! This will help you keep it to just one plate as well.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator.
  • Stay active – keep your exercise programs going. Consider an extra long workout when anticipating a potential holiday event.
  • Don’t starve yourself before the party; rather eat a small meal or snack such as a bagel and fruit before you go to your event.
  • Don’t rush to socialize – carefully choose the foods you want to eat.
  • Move your socializing away from the buffet table where it’s easy to grab food to nibble on.
  • Use a smaller plate, this will automatically take care of your portion control.
  • Eat a salad before your meal.
  • Eat slowly savor every bite and when finished with your plate wait 10 minutes before going back for more.
  • Be mindful of holiday drinks which often add extra calories to your daily intake. Alternate with water when drinking festive drinks or alcohol at a holiday social event.
  • Always sit down to eat.
  • Get plenty of rest. Lack of sleep slows down your metabolism.
  • Focus on keeping stress to a minimum. Know your limits. Consider listening to music, reading or taking a walk to keep from overeating.
  • Offer to bring a healthy dish to a holiday event.
  • Modify baking recipes using unsweetened applesauce, mashed bananas, and pumpkin puree to replace oils. ¼ cup oil is replaced with equal amounts of the fruit puree. 1 to 1 ration.

Holidays are a great time for celebrating with friends and family over food and drinks. Keep these mindful tips close at hand and you will be able to keep off the extra holiday pounds and still enjoy all the season has to offer. Give yourself the gift of health to continue your path to wellness.


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