Holiday Tips for Healthy Eating

The holidays bring friends and families together, and food plays a central role in the festivities. Navigating nutrition during this time is a challenge everyone faces. 

Traditional holiday foods tip the scales in favor of sugar, fat, and salt, but that doesn’t mean you have to let the holidays sabotage your normally nutritious eating habits. 

Led by primary care physician Dr. Antony Labady, the team at SunSouth Medical Center in Morrow, Georgia, is here to help you stay on track during the holidays and beyond. You can have a guilt-free holiday season with a few easy-to-implement tips and by planning ahead. 

1. Set nutritional goals for the holidays

It’s important to have realistic expectations for the holidays. It’s unrealistic to expect that you’ll avoid every treat you encounter. When it comes to nutrition, balance wins out. A treat here and there over the holidays is unlikely to harm your health if it’s balanced with sound nutrition. 

Setting goals for fruit and vegetable intake can help you avoid overindulging. If you aim to have larger portions of nutritious foods such as whole grains, lean proteins, fruits, and vegetables, you can work in a slice or two of cake, pie, or your mother’s popular mac ’n’ cheese. 

2. Stay close to your regular meal schedule 

Stay close to your regular meal schedule

It can be tempting to skip meals to “save calories” for a holiday party. But waiting to eat can spike your hunger levels and trigger you to overeat. When you’re traveling and eating away from home, try to stick to your regular meal schedule.

3. Practice mindfulness 

It’s easy to graze on food throughout the day without realizing how many calories you’re taking in. Aim to remain mindful throughout the holidays. Paying attention to what and when you’re eating helps prevent overindulging.

Make conscious choices about the treats you’ll have and when you’ll have them.

4. Rethink your drinks 

Holiday beverages can contribute a significant number of calories to your daily intake. From eggnog to hot chocolate with all of the fixings, holiday drinks can add 300-500 calories per serving — sometimes more. Add alcohol to the mix and you’re looking at even more calories.

Plan festive, lower-calorie drinks ahead of time. Beverages that use fresh fruit, sparkling water, and a dash of fruit juice enable you to slash calories during the holidays.

If there’s a holiday beverage on your must-have list, check for a healthier version. For instance, low-fat eggnog and sangria spritzers are both less indulgent than their original counterparts.

5. Choose treats wisely 

While you can’t expect to avoid treats completely, it’s also important to avoid a free-for-all. Choosing your treats wisely allows you to savor your food and moderate your intake of foods that are higher in sugar and saturated fat.

6. Prepare ‘skinny’ versions of holiday treats

Whether it’s cake, pie, ice cream, or cobbler, there are always ways to make your favorite holiday treats into healthier alternative versions. Preparing a few “skinny” versions of your holiday favorites and taking them with you to a gathering is a great way to stay on track.

7. Carry healthy snacks

Heading to a holiday party when you haven’t eaten for several hours is a recipe for overindulgence. A handful of nuts, a few ounces of yogurt, or some cottage cheese with berries an hour or two before a holiday gathering can go a long way in preventing you from overeating. 

8. Keep an eye on portion sizes

It’s easy to heap spoonfuls of food onto your plate during the holidays without giving it a second thought. But doing so can cause you to rack up calories and excess macronutrients. Aim to stick to your regular portion sizes. A good trick is to eat on a smaller plate. 

9. Limit leftovers

It seems every holiday gathering ends with the host sending guests home with leftovers. While generous, this gesture can lead to overindulging long after the party has ended. If you decide to take leftovers, take small portions so you don’t sabotage your healthy eating. 

10. Stay active

Staying active during the holidays can help you balance out any treats you might eat. This doesn’t mean that you have to find the nearest gym. Plan fun holiday activities that get you moving — for example, check out your neighborhood lights on foot rather than in the car.

Whether you’re managing existing health conditions or making health and nutrition your top priority, the compassionate team at SunSouth Medical Center can help meet your needs. Call our office to schedule an appointment with Dr. Labady or book your request online today.

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