The holidays are approaching which means lots of gatherings and celebrations centered around food.  The average person gains 1-2 pounds over the holidays and while this may not seem like much it adds up over the years because most people do not lose these pounds they gain.

The holidays are a time to gather with friends and family and enjoy good food and good company.  This year develop a strategy to help avoid overeating while attending social gatherings.

  • Eat a small healthy meal or snack before you go
  • Focus on socializing rather than eating
  • Distance yourself from the buffet table
  • Sit rather than stand; you are likely to eat more if you are standing
  • Build a healthy plate- fill ½ your plate with fruits and vegetables, ¼ with protein and ¼ with grains and allow yourself a small serving of dessert
  • Look for dishes that are light on sauce, gravy, butter and other high fat, high calorie extras
  • Avoid going back for seconds
  • Watch what you drink- alcoholic beverages, punch, and soda are loaded with empty calories; opt for a glass of sparkling water with slices of fresh fruit

Do you have recipes that have been passed down through the family but are not so healthy?  If so, experiment with the recipes and find ways to reinvent them to make them more nutritious:

 Instead of this…                 Substitute this…

  • Butter - Applesauce, prune puree or oil
  • Sour cream - Low-fat yogurt
  • Breadcrumbs - Rolled oats or bran cereal
  • Cream - Fat-free half and half, evaporated skim milk
  • Eggs - 2 egg whites or ¼ cup egg substitute= 1 whole egg
  • All-purpose flour - Replace at least half with whole-wheat flour
  • Sugar - You can reduce the amount of sugar by adding vanilla, nutmeg, or cinnamon

Treat holidays like any other day, not as a day to splurge and sabotage the hard efforts you’ve made throughout the year.  Maintain your healthy eating habits and exercise routine even during the hectic times of running errands, shopping for gifts, and preparing for guests; bring healthy snacks with you to avoid grabbing food on the go.  If you slip up get right back on track at the next meal.  Spend your time enjoying the holidays and focusing on friends, family, and activities rather than food.

 Happy Holidays!

By Rachel Sestrich, RD, LD, CDE