Holiday healthy eating tips from a registered dietitian

Published: November 16, 2022

Thanksgiving is a feast of food, friends, and family. The feasting continues with holiday parties, Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa in December. But it often ends with a thud on New Year's Day, when many of us resolve to lose the pounds that we packed on during the holidays.

How about enjoying the holiday season without guilt or weight-loss resolutions? Here's how.

1. Don't 'save' your appetite for turkey and trimmings.

Arriving at Thanksgiving dinner hungry guarantees overeating. Curb your appetite beforehand with a healthy snack like fruit, yogurt, or a handful of nuts so you don't eat more than you need.

2. Bring food to share.

The easiest way to control what you eat is to prepare it yourself. Bring a salad, lean main dish, or veggie platter to ensure that you have at least one nutritious choice.

3. Cut hors d'oeuvres calories.

Stick to shrimp cocktail or dipping veggies—instead of chips—in hummus or salsa.

4. Use small plates.

Put whatever you eat on a small plate and use a small fork too. This will help you eat less by slowing you down and giving your brain the time—at least 20 minutes—it needs to signal that you're full.

5. Fill half your plate with vegetables.

Make produce half of everything you eat at every meal. Frozen vegetables count!

6. Eat the colors of the rainbow.

Not only does it make for a pretty plate, but it's an easy way to ensure you're getting essential nutrients. Green leafy vegetables, like spinach, are natural anti-inflammatories. Yellow or orange fruits or vegetables, like sweet potatoes, are high in beta carotene. Red peppers have three times as much vitamin C as green peppers. Blue or purple berries contain antioxidants that are key to body and brain health.

7. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation.

Alternate each cocktail with a glass of water. Add seltzer to your wine or use only half a shot of liquor for your mixed drink. Also, drink from a tall skinny glass to trick yourself into drinking less.

8. Stay hydrated.

Drink 20 ounces of water 20 minutes before each meal to curb cravings and calories.

9. Nix 'family style' meals.

Large, easy-to-reach platters promote picking and second portions. Walking to another room for more food gives you a chance to consider, "Am I still hungry? Do I really want more?"

10. Ditch the 'clean plate club.'

Eat until you are satisfied, not stuffed.

11. Enjoy one bite of all the desserts you want.

If you want a full slice of pie, then leave the crust, which is filled with fat and calories.

12. Go easy on yourself for over-indulging.

Eating a whole slice of pie won't make you gain weight in a day, just as eating salad and running won't make you lose weight in a day.

13. Enjoy yourself.

Eat mindfully, and be thankful for good food, family, and being together, which is what the holidays are all about!


About the Author

Tara Joyce, RD is a clinical dietitian at Stamford Health's Nutrition Counseling Center.


Featured Expert/ Author

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