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Healthy Eating through the Holidays: Finding a Balance That Works

Contributed by Sonal Hill, RD, LD

The holiday season is a time to celebrate with family and friends. And for many it also becomes a time for over-eating and weight gain. According to the National Institutes of Health, Americans, on average, gain a pound or two during the holiday season and often don’t lose the extra weight once the holiday season is over.

The good news is that the holidays don’t have to mean weight gain. Focusing on a healthy balance of food, activity and time with loved ones are what you need to help avoid weight gain during the holidays.

I recommend following these steps:

  • Focus on vegetables and fruits at most meals to help bring down your overall intake of calories.
  • Use smaller plates instead of a dinner plate when eating a meal or snacks at a holiday gathering. By doing this, you will run out of room on your plate, preventing you from adding more food to your plate.
  • Eat a healthy meal or snack before the gathering. By doing so, you won’t be as hungry and less likely to over-eat in a short time.
  • Watch what you eat and drink regardless of the portion size. Alcoholic beverages and dinner foods such as gravy, stuffing, casseroles and desserts are usually higher in calories and sodium.
  • Engage in conversation. By talking to your family and friends, you will be distracted from the food

surrounding you, causing you to be less tempted to eat.

  • Plan time for exercise. Exercise helps relieve holiday stress and prevent weight gain. If you’re time is limited, try 10 or 15 minute brisk walks twice a day.
  • Set realistic goals. The holiday season is not the time to try to lose weight. Instead try to maintain your current weight and start thinking about your nutrition goals for the new year.

Enjoy the holidays and don’t stress about your weight or food. Remember to balance your eating and exercising just as you do any other day. Doing so will go a long way in helping you enjoy the holiday season and in the long run, your body will thank you!

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