Dietician Tips: Healthy Eating Over the Holidays
The holidays. The time of the year when you bring out old family recipes that call for four sticks of butter and a gallon of heavy cream. When you bite into the traditional noodles or classic pumpkin pie at family events, you travel back to your childhood and all the holiday memories that come with it. But afterward… that’s when the pain begins. You overstuffed yourself and now you feel guilty for all those extra calories taken in over one meal. Indulging over the holidays is not the end of the world. Give yourself a break (you deserve it).
You’ve worked hard staying healthy. You try to get all your fruits and vegetables in every day. You take time out of your week to get in the 2.5 hours of exercise recommended by doctors. You prepare your meals on Sundays before the week begins and make sure that you have healthy snacks in case your hunger gets the best of you.
Here’s the main point to keep in mind: When you have an opportunity to indulge, it’s ok. Take it one day at a time and don’t let it throw you off for weeks at a time.
Registered dietician Melanie Lipps gave the following advice about how to prepare for big holiday events.
- Be mindful! You can still enjoy the food, parties, and company, even while staying healthy. Don’t go to a party hungry, just like you don’t go to a grocery store hungry. Have a healthy snack, like an apple and string cheese before you leave the house. If you don’t eat all day in preparation, you have more of a chance of overeating. When you arrive at the party, start with the healthy stuff, like fruits and vegetables, and then try small portions of the good stuff. Always remember to hydrate.
- Use substitutions. There are some simple swaps you can make in recipes and your guests will still love your dishes. For example, make whipped mashed potatoes, but only use half the recommended butter. Or skip the potatoes and use mashed cauliflower instead. Another option is to use natural sweeteners like honey, agave nectar, and syrup.. You can also try going dairy free by using apple sauce instead of butter or oil.
- Useful alternatives for alcohol. When you drink, you tend to eat more. If you’re going to have wine, make it a spritzer by adding some ice and Sprite. This will make you feel like you’re getting more with your drink and it will last longer. Also, drink a sparkling water in between. Not only will it cleanse your palate, but it will help your body metabolize the alcohol.
- Your day will look different compared to others if you’re counting calories. That’s ok! Some people will exercise on the day (like in an annual turkey trot) to be able to eat more. The good part about exercising on a holiday is that it can also make you feel more full at dinner time.
There is a lot of stress over the holidays, but don’t worry too much about how much you’re eating. Keep in mind: this is just one day. Don’t let that one meal derail you. You can alleviate a lot of that stress by planning ahead with healthy snacks the days before and after.
Have wonderful, mindful holiday season!