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6 Tips for Sensible Eating This Holiday Season

Healthy Lifestyle

The holidays are coming, and you know what that means.

There’s usually an abundance of yummy snacks at the office. Gifts from friends and family might include tasty pies, cookies or other treats. Oh, and don’t forget about the parties. So many holiday parties with delicious appetizers, meals and desserts.

As a registered dietitian at the Methodist Center for Diabetes and Nutritional Health, I’m sometimes asked how people can manage their weight when there’s temptation at every turn.

Here are some simple tips I follow that may work for you:

Watch what you drink. It’s easy to forget how quickly the calories in alcohol and other drinks can add up. For example, a 4-ounce glass of eggnog with alcohol can contain more than 300 calories, an 8-ounce margarita packs about 450 calories and a 4-ounce glass of wine has about 85 calories. Carry water with you at parties, watch your portion sizes of wine and choose light eggnog instead of regular.

Make your favorite holiday dishes healthier. There are plenty of ways to make the foods you love a little better for you. Replace higher fat ingredients with light or fat-free products, reduce the salt or replace it with fresh herbs, or try a new healthier recipe. 

Don’t cut out dessert completely. You don’t have to deprive yourself of your holiday favorites. Enjoy a smaller serving of dessert and savor its sweet flavor. Give yourself permission to eat sweets during the holiday season, but watch your portion sizes.

Focus on the people, not the food. This is the time of year when we spend time with people we love but may not see very often. Put down the fork between bites, slow your eating and focus on your conversation. You’ll eat less, which means fewer calories.

Serve fruits and vegetables at your holiday party. Get out your pretty dishes and fill them with grapes, baby carrots, sweet mini-peppers or other favorite fruits and vegetables. If you’re going to someone’s house, bring these foods with you. They’re lower in calories and rich in fiber, which will make you feel fuller and help to control your hunger.

Increase the exercise. Yes, it might be cold and windy. But put on that warm coat, scarf and hat, then head outside for a walk. The fresh air relieves stress and makes us feel better. If it’s icy out, go for a walk at the local mall, head to your gym or log some steps on that treadmill sitting in the basement.

This is the time to enjoy the sights, sounds and flavors that only come once a year. A few small changes can make a big difference when it comes to celebrating the holidays without going overboard. For more tips on sensible holiday eating, talk with your Methodist Physicians Clinic primary care provider or consult with a Methodist registered dietitian.

Martha Nepper

About the Author:

Martha Nepper, PhD, RDN, LMNT, CDE, is passionate about healthy eating and nutrition. Her favorite part of being a registered dietitian nutritionist is seeing someone become healthier through better nutrition and adding more activity in their lives.

You can find Martha helping patients with healthier nutrition at the Methodist Center for Diabetes and Nutritional Health.

See More Articles by Martha Nepper