Tips for Surviving Holiday Eating Without Guilt and Weight Gain

It’s time to start thinking about the holidays again:  shopping for gifts, planning celebrations, and eating food!  Once Thanksgiving arrives, the holiday season can seem like a non-stop eating contest straight through the end of the year!  That can mean 5-6 weeks with lots of extra food and weight gain!

The holiday season should be a time of celebration with friends and family, but it doesn’t have to mean that healthy, mindful eating has to go by the wayside.  A few changes in the way you think about food at special events can keep you on track during this busy and stressful time of year.

* Lots of goodies and snacks can make their way into your place of work in the days or weeks leading up to the actual holidays.  Make it a point to eat 6-7 servings of fruit and vegetables every work day.  Fill up on these lower calorie foods each day, and you will find yourself eating less of the calorie-laden foods that seem to be everywhere!

* Don’t go to an event hungry!  When you are hungry, it’s difficult to resist tempting high calorie foods, and you may end up over-eating.  Try having a small meal or snack before you go.  This can be especially helpful when there are lots of appetizers before a meal.  If you are not hungry, you can resist a lot of the extra calories that come from appetizers.

* If you are at a buffet, look for a few lower calorie foods (like vegetables) that can fill up part your plate.  Stick with one plate of food and avoid multiple trips to the buffet line.  Remember, just because it’s there doesn’t mean you have to try it all!

* Give yourself permission to have that special dessert, but stick to just one.  When there’s a table full of desserts at a celebration, do you really need to sample them all?  Pick the one you would enjoy the most and have it!  You will feel just as satisfied if you savor the dessert you want, instead of trying everything.

* Don’t forget about the “liquid calories” found in wine, mixed drinks and eggnog.  These can really add up fast.  Once you’ve had a drink or two, try switching over to club soda with a twist of lemon or lime.

* Don’t abandon your exercise plan during the holiday season.  Taking 4-6 weeks off from your usual exercise routine makes it difficult to get started again after New Year’s day.  If you don’t exercise at all, now is a good time to start.  Starting a physical activity does not require elaborate equipment or a huge investment of your time.  If you are really busy, you could start simply by walking for 15 minutes a day.  If 15 minutes is all you can manage during the holiday season, that’s OK!

Make your holidays more about enjoying time with friends and family.  With a little preparation, you can face the holiday food frenzy  head-on and have no regrets about what you eat.  That could mean no guilt and no resolutions needed on New Year’s Day!

© 2011, Gretchen Scalpi, RD, CDE.  Publication rights granted to all venues so long as article and by-line are reprinted intact and all links are made live.

Gretchen Scalpi is a Registered Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator and author of “The Everything Diabetes Cookbook, 2nd ed.”  Gretchen operates a private nutrition practice and and has offices in New Windsor and Beacon, NY.  Learn more about good nutrition and diabetes at http://www.nutritionxpert.com/products.

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