Holiday season is in full swing! For most people this means fun times with loved ones, travel, vacation, and shopping. Oh, and of course, delicious food! Some of our fondest memories and traditions take form in this season. But, it’s also a season that causes a great deal of stress for people. In particular, those who struggle with health and weight loss challenges can experience increased anxiety around this time.
Did you know that on average, Americans gain 2-3 pounds during the holiday season? This may not seem like a big deal to some people. But for others, losing unwanted weight can be a challenge, physically, and mentally.
The good news? The feast meals don’t have to be a whirlwind ride that ends in a food coma! And, you don’t have to gain unwanted weight this holiday season while enjoying good food.
Here are my top five tips for balanced eating during the holiday season! I’ve also included a helpful infographic to remind you of the “PFC+V portion sizes”.
When asked to bring a dish to a holiday function choose a vegetable appetizer like a veggie tray or salad. Starting your meal with veggies will give you volume, healthy vitamins, and minerals. The vegetable fiber will help slow down the absorption of other nutrients and let us know when we are full. Bringing one or two vegetable side dishes as your addition to the feast is a great way to help achieve this goal.
Identify your proteins, fats, carbs and veggies and aim to balance your plate. Your hands are a great resource for ‘eyeballing’ portion sizes. For example: Your protein will be the size of one palm of your hand. Carbs are the finger section of one hand. Non-starchy veggies will be the other whole hand and fats will be the size of your two thumbs. Check out the visual aid below for reference.
If you’re not prepared to stop consuming alcohol, at the very least practice moderation. Alcohol is empty calories. This means we are not obtaining any vitamins or minerals from alcohol. In contrast, you are likely consuming more sugar and carbohydrates. Not to mention dehydrating yourself, which will in turn make you feel more hungry. Plan your limit, stick to it, and drink water before and after your alcoholic beverages.
Eat your dessert mindfully. Your serving doesn’t have to be large for the taste to last longer. Try eating dessert slower to enjoy every bite to its fullest.
Get exercise during the day to wake up your metabolism. You burn fuel even an hour after exercising, which means you are less likely to store as much as fat. Try taking a walk after your meal. Moving your body helps to a) regulate your blood sugar, b) use the fuel (food) you put in your body, and c) keep you from picking at those leftovers even when you are full.
I hope you find these tips helpful and empowering. You deserve to have a good, stress-free time around the dinner table with all of your loved ones. Sometimes, having a few tricks up your sleeve can give you the confidence you need to stay on track and succeed.
Katie Di Lauro, RDN, IFNCP
Director of Nutrition