McFarland Clinic

Healthy Holiday Eating

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December 22, 2010

Worried about holiday weight gain? With New Year’s resolutions just around the corner, you might be regarding any upcoming holiday eating as your last hoorah before getting your gym membership, or maybe you’re thinking about the holiday meals as a great time to get started on the resolutions early. If you are worried about holiday weight gain, or maybe just want to maintain a healthy lifestyle, check out these top tips for getting through the holiday in a healthful and enjoyable way.


Eat What You Love Rather than grazing on all of the available food at a get together, scope out the spread in advance and let yourself indulge in your favorite dishes, especially if they are special foods only prepared around the holidays. Why fill up on food you can eat any time of the year when you’ll get the most enjoyment out of Aunt Meg’s sweet potato casserole? Mixing your favorite foods in with some healthy morsels will leave you satisfied, rather than stuffed if you insist on trying everything.

Stay Active Knowing that you’ll likely be eating more during the holidays – and maybe not always completely healthy – make an effort to step up your activity level. You may or may not be able to go to the gym, but even getting out in the hustle and bustle of the holiday crowds can help you get in a nice level of activity to balance out your bigger meals.

Limit Your Drinks Indulging in a few drinks is often a part of the party, but alcohol increases your appetite and contains a lot of empty calories in itself. If you’ll be having a little wine at dinner or ringing in the New Year with a little bubbly, switch to a glass of water after each drink to slow your consumption while still having fun.

Use a Smaller Plate Eating off of a large dinner plate for your meal means there is a temptation to fill every corner of that plate with food, and it will be difficult to keep your portions under control. If possible, use a smaller plate to have your meal. You won’t have to worry about filling up a large plate, and you’ll give yourself time to decide if you’re hungry enough for seconds to make another round.

Fill up on Fruits Or other healthy food. While it’s a great idea to let yourself have some fun and indulge in your favorite treats for your holiday feasts, making an effort to load up half of your plate with healthy food will help you fill up on the nutritious so you’ll scale back on other treats.

Try New Recipes If you’re the cook in the kitchen or are bringing a dish to share with others, why not try a new, healthier recipe or look for ways to make some of your traditional dishes healthier? You may also consider if family members or friends in attendance will have special dietary needs and work on creating a new dish they can enjoy. Diabetic-friendly dessert recipes are widely available, and making a treat that is healthier and that more people can enjoy is a nice gesture for the holidays.

Keep Healthy at Other Times It’s tempting to treat every day leading up to the holidays – and sometimes after – as a holiday in itself, especially with holiday treats brought to your home by kind family and friends. But if you work on eating healthy meals you enjoy on those days where you aren’t having a big get together with loved ones, your indulgences on those few days won’t have nearly as much of an impact.

Focus on Family and Friends Holiday parties and family time are often scheduled around a big meal, but if you put the focus on your family and friends rather than the food, chances are you’ll eat less. Make the rounds to talk to others, connecting with those you might not see every day – it will make it easier to avoid going back for another round at the buffet table.

Keep Medical Conditions Managed Don’t forget your self-management routines during the holidays if you are keeping your diabetes or other condition in check. This time of year can get extremely busy, but leaving time for yourself will help ensure you won’t run into problems with your condition when you’d rather be enjoying the time with those around you.

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