Thanksgiving and Christmas can be a time for family, friends, delicious home cooked meals and for some…anxiety. Anxiety over sticking to one’s health and wellness goals while still enjoying favorite drinks, dishes and desserts.
Thankfully, there are many ways to navigate the holidays in a healthy way and still celebrate this time of year.We spoke with a few Registered Dietitians and asked what their best advice and tips are for individuals who are trying to maintain their wellness goals.
Ellen Liskov, RD, MPH, CDE – Outpatient Nutrition Specialist and President, Connecticut Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Even if you ate poorly for a meal or two, let it go and get back on track right away. Never say “I’ll get back on track on Monday”. Every meal and snack counts- there are no good or bad days.
Kaycie Lindeman, RDN, LD – Clinical Dietitian, Minnesota: I love the holiday season for so many reasons – spending time with family, enjoying delicious food dishes, and slowing down to be thankful for my surroundings! The last thing I’d want is for stressors surrounding diet and weight to get in the way of enjoying all those things. My healthy holiday approach is:
1) Bring the healthy dish to the party! There are always so many snack items at the party, so I usually keep it simple – a vegetable tray with a delicious yogurt dip or fruit kabobs. Best part? I’ve never come home with leftovers!
2) Keep it simple during the holiday season – focus on the nutrition basics. The holiday season is not the time to introduce new, unrealistic (or extreme) nutrition goals.
3) Most importantly, focus on the people that surround you and the fun to be had. The food should be there to complement your day, not be the focus of the day.
Haley Goodrich, RD, LDN – Owner at INSPIRD Nutrition Consulting, Pennsylvania:
It’s about approaching the meal with a different mindset. Instead of being focused on this wonderful time of year with people you love, we are focused on the anticipated binge. Stick to your normal eating pattern, don’t skip meals in anticipation, slow down and enjoy each bite. You will probably eat half as much and be twice as satisfied.
Jacie Johnson, RD – Clinical Dietitian, Washington: Holidays are a time to enjoy your family and friends, but also those favorite foods! Keep in mind appropriate portions, but don’t feel like you have to deprive yourself. There are no rules saying you can’t take a few bites from each thing on the menu, or choose a few of your favorites to enjoy. You can continue to be successful with your goals, while still enjoying those holiday favorites!”
Rebecca Iselin, RD – Connecticut: Keep active. Eat a small high protein, high fiber snack before going to a party. Pick 1-2 of your favorite holiday appetizer, dessert or drink at a party and enjoy without any guilt!
Katie Emery, RD, LDN – Clinical Dietitian, Pennsylvania: Here are my tips for surviving the holidays:
1) Don’t show up to the meal starving. Have a good breakfast (or lunch) before the main meal to keep yourself from overeating.
2) Drink plenty of water before and after the meal. Being dehydrated can make you feel hungry, so make sure you are hydrated.
3) Use a smaller serving plate! Trick your brain into thinking you have more on your plate than you actually do.
4) Stop eating when you are full, listen to your body’s fullness and hunger cues. To help with this, eat slowly, focus on chewing and enjoying each bite, this will help to keep you from overeating. Before heading in for seconds give yourself at least 20 minutes, that is about the time it takes for your brain and your stomach to catch up to each other.
Happy Thanksgiving from the Connecticut Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics!