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Tips for Healthy Holidays

Don’t skip meals. You will be less tempted to overeat at your holiday meal if you ate a small meal earlier.

Take the edge off your hunger before a party. Feeling hungry can sabotage even the strongest willpower, so eat a small, low-fat snack such as fruit or low-fat cheese before you head out the door. This will help you avoid rushing to the buffet table when you arrive.

Make recipe substitutions. If you find a high fat ingredient in your favorite holiday recipe, buy the low fat version of that ingredient. Applesauce or fruit purees are good substitutes for oil.

Make just one trip to the holiday buffet. Choose only the foods you really want to eat and keep portions small. Often just a taste satisfies a food craving or curiosity. Also, move your socializing away from the buffet table to eliminate unconscious nibbling.

Plan for dessert. Before you become full, take a break and save room for a smaller portion of your favorite dessert. If you do overeat, go lighter on the next meal.

Meet and greet. Conversation is calorie-free. Get a no-calorie beverage (try sparkling water and a lime twist rather than alcohol) and settle into the festivities by catching up with old friends and making new ones.

Choose lower-calorie foods. Go easy on fried appetizers and cheese cubes. Instead, have some raw vegetables with a small amount of dip—just enough to coat the end of the vegetable— or try boiled shrimp or scallops with cocktail sauce or lemon. To make sure there will be a healthy option, bring a dish to the party filled with raw vegetables with a yogurt or cottage cheese dip, or bring a platter of fresh fruit.

Enjoy physical activity after a holiday feast.Find activities the whole family can do such as walking, biking, roller-blading or hockey, and develop family fun-time habits that can continue after the holiday season.

Be realistic. Strive to maintain your weight by balancing party eating with other meals. Eat small, lower-calorie meals during the day so you can enjoy celebration foods later without overdoing your total calorie intake.

Have fun. Enjoy traditional holiday meals and party foods with family and friends while maintaining a healthy lifestyle, too.

Andrea Gamber, RDN, LDN, Clinical Dietitian. If you’re interested in individual outpatient nutrition counseling, contact Andrea at 610-208-4735 or AGamber1@pennstatehealth.psu.edu or schedule an appointment at 610-378-2100.


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