The holidays should be a joyous time of year; time for celebrating various traditions and events with your family and friends. These traditions are embedded deep within our distinct cultures as well as the foods that we tend to eat during this time of year. These foods can be enriching, spiritual, healing and comforting, but they also tend to be rich and hearty, especially as we enter the colder seasons. Not to worry, our Registered Dietitian Nutritionists are here to help! We have asked some of our RDNs what their favorite tips are to manage good health and help you to stay on track. With these small suggestions from our fellow RD’s, you can still reach and maintain your health and nutrition goals! Take a look at what they had to say!
One thing I like to suggest is to schedule a Turkey Trot/Run on Thanksgiving to gather the whole family together and burn some calories before the meal. Also. have a goal to reach during the holiday season. – Elizabeth May, RDN, LDN
If you are attending a holiday party where you can offer to bring something (a side dish, appetizer), then make a ‘safe dish’ such as a veggie tray, lettuce wraps, a green salad (one with avocado and pomegranate is great for the holidays with the red and green), a barley salad with grilled chicken, etc. That way if there are a ton of tempting sweets or high calorie items, you can rely on the healthy dish to fill their plate with and then have small bites of the other stuff. – Jennifer Laurence, RD, LDN
I like to find ways to slightly modify traditional recipes, desserts or even alcoholic beverages. Around the holidays I find that people stick to comfort foods and home traditions; therefore, if you can begin to modify these “favorite” recipes or alcoholic beverages that may be a simple target. Let’s be honest, most folks are not going to “give up” their favorite foods since they only get it once a year! I also think about getting extra exercise since most likely we are going to consume additional calories via food/drinks. Incorporating family walks, hikes or fundraising walks around the holiday are good ways to add in some exercise while giving us time to chat and bond as a family. – Kristen Hicks MS, RD, LD
Don’t show up at the party when you’re famished…get a few healthy bites in prior to the event. Pre-plan/visualize yourself eating healthfully at the holiday meal. This works well for alcohol, too. Will you have 1 drink? 2? None? Pick a number (a low number!) and stick to it. – Krista Ulatowski, MPH, RDN
I try to remind people that the actual holidays are just a few days out of the season, and that they don’t need to indulge throughout the entire season in order to enjoy their holiday meals. If we try to keep all healthy habits the same during your normal everyday routine, then there’s no reason to feel guilty or stress over the one or 2 holiday meals we may have, especially if we go right back to their normal routine the next day. I think the holiday season is all about mindset! People who tend to feel guilty end up just giving up all together and think “I’ll just start over when the holidays are through”, so I feel it’s important to take the guilt out of the equation as much as possible and to just focus on our normal healthy routines. – Amanda Sajczuk, MS, RD, LDN
If you find yourself at a holiday party, grab a small plate and place a few pieces of food on the plate and sit down away from the buffet/serving table. Be sure to always put food on plate before eating in order to visually see it. Keep in mind that our brain is usually satisfied with just a few small tastes of something (you can always go back for more!) Allow yourself to try a few things, but listen to hunger cues and do not feel guilty about discarding food if you are truly not hungry and of course, load up on veggies! – Anthony Tassoni, RD, LDN
Don’t forget to keep your pantry stocked on healthy staples during the holidays, think before you drink, plan ahead if you are traveling, try some healthy sides, have something healthy before the big meal and perhaps add a pinch of cinnamon to your dishes. Remember to have fun, enjoy yourself, but most importantly, just relax!