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Healthy Holiday Eating

Posted on Nov 23, 2015 in Uncategorized

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The holiday season – it’s the most delicious time of the year! But all those tasty treats and traditional holiday foods can also mean lots of extra sugar, fat and calories.

According to the National Institutes of Health, American adults gain about one pound between Thanksgiving and the New Year. And people who are already overweight may gain up to five pounds. Although a single pound might not sound like much, most of us don’t lose the added weight. Over the years, the continuous weight gain can lead to serious health consequences including diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

“It’s definitely worth having strategies in place before the start of the holiday season to curb any potential weight gain,” says Carolyn McCune, R.D.,  a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator at Mills-Peninsula. “It’s not so much what you eat on a single holiday – it’s the accumulation of treats we consume between Halloween and the New Year that really adds up.”

McCune offers the following tips to help you enjoy your favorite holiday foods without sacrificing your waistline and good health.

  • Eat before a party. Don’t skip meals, as this will only lead to overindulging later. Have a healthy, protein-containing snack such as a small handful of almonds or a piece of fruit and a small slice of low-fat cheese before any holiday get-together.
  •  Watch your drinks. Sip water with a slice of lemon or unsweetened tea and choose a wine spritzer rather than a straight glass of wine. Calories from special holiday drinks like eggnog or fruity cocktails add up quickly and alcohol can increase your appetite.
  • Pick a favorite. Rather than helping yourself to everything at a holiday meal or party, choose one special food that you really like. That way you’ll get to enjoy the treat without the calorie overload.
  • Minimize the extras. Stick to a drizzle of salad dressing, gravy or sauce, or a small dollop of low-fat sour cream on your potato.
  • Eat mindfully. Don’t rush through a meal. Savor each bite slowly and be fully aware of the taste.
  • Choose your location. Placement at a party or holiday event is key. Don’t sit or stand near the buffet or snack table. The closer you are to the food, the greater the temptation to graze and overeat. And keeping a glass of water in hand at all times also makes it much more difficult to fill a plate with nibbles.
  • Make a healthy contribution. Bring a healthy item, such as a fresh green salad or veggie platter, to a potluck or meal. That will ensure that there is a healthy food choice for you and all the guests.
  • Keep treats away. Don’t be tempted to load up your pantry with everyone’s favorite holiday candies and cookies. Instead, keep plenty of fresh fruit available for your family to snack on and give them the gift of vitamin C and fiber for best health.
  • Get moving. Keep up your regular exercise routine as the busy holiday season rolls on. Exercise not only relieves holiday stress, but will help you keep unwanted pounds at bay. Incorporate some active fun into your holiday traditions – go for a walk or bike ride, try ice skating together, play a ball game at the park or have a spontaneous dance party to your favorite holiday tunes.

 

Carolyn McCune, R.D.

Carolyn McCune, R.D., is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator at Mills-Peninsula Health Services.