The holiday season can be a time full of family and friends, and a time abundant with sweet treats. Over-indulgence is common during this time of year, but there is a way to enjoy the holidays, including the food, while still maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Healthy eating is not an all-or-nothing lifestyle; you can enjoy the season in moderation without feeling like you need to give up until January.
During the holidays, there are many opportunities to indulge in a special treat, and it’s good to appreciate that part of the season, but it doesn’t mean you have to overeat. To help set yourself up for success this year, try to follow some of these practices:
- Plan ahead – what special items do you not want to miss? What can you live without? How will you avoid tempting situations?
- Don’t “save up your appetite” - start your day off with a good breakfast or eat a healthy snack before you leave the house. Starving yourself will only encourage you to eat more since you’ll arrive hungry.
- Use a smaller plate/bowl/cup – using a smaller plate for food will encourage you to pick out less each time you fill your plate or cup.
- Taste in bites – If you want to eat a variety, eat a little bit of each instead full servings.
- Pay attention to drinks – sugary drinks can add a lot of extra calories.
- Eat slowly – savor the food you’re eating.
- Sit at the table – watching the game or the parade can distract you from enjoying your food, and you may not realize how much you’re eating.
- Check in – Before you get seconds, see if you still feel hungry. You don’t need to eat until you feel stuffed, save the food to enjoy as leftovers instead.
If you’ll be bringing a dish, make it a healthy choice that you can enjoy, other people will appreciate a healthy option as well!
It’s also important to incorporate exercise, even something as simple as going for a walk. Especially after a big meal, walking gives you the opportunity to get some fresh air and gets your metabolism moving to help digest your food. The holidays are a time to spend with friends and loved ones, and taking the main focus off of food and placing it on the time you spend together can help you avoid overeating. If you do overeat, don’t feel guilty and don’t give up on eating healthy at your next meal or snack. Think of every day as a fresh start to making healthy choices.
Cone Health understands the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle to increase and ensure overall well-being, and has an exceptional team of dietitians, physicians, nurses and other related healthcare providers dedicated to educating our community on proper nutrition and other beneficial lifestyle choices.
Kate Towery is a registered dietitian at Cone Health’s Nutrition and Diabetes Services at Greensboro. Kate received a Bachelor of Science in nutrition sciences from North Carolina State University. She completed a master’s in nutrition and a dietetic internship at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.