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Published on December 19, 2012

Healthier Holiday Eating

By Rachel Pinos
Dietitian, Avera Sacred Heart Hospital

The season of joy, giving and sharing is upon us.  For many, food is deeply intertwined in our gatherings and celebrations with family, friends and neighbors.  It always seems to be a struggle to strike the proper balance between enjoying and overindulging.   Here are a few key concepts to keep in mind to make it through the season without feeling the need to jump on a diet bandwagon come January 1st.

Remember the essentials of a balanced diet

  • Start each day with a healthy breakfast, including complex carbohydrates and lean protein.
  • Stay hydrated throughout the day, sipping water wherever you are.
  • Fill up with fiber from whole foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains.

In reality, most of our time spent during the season is devoted to work and the hustle and bustle associated with the celebrations.  There are likely only specific occasions during which we need to stay on top of our game.  When the situation arises, follow these tips:

Surviving holiday parties

  • Don’t skip meals to “save up” on calories.  It’s a poor strategy that leaves you overly hungry and likely to overeat later.
  • If you are concerned about their being a healthy option on hand, bring a dish to share, such as raw vegetables and hummus or a Greek-yogurt based dip with whole-grain pita chips.
  • Survey the table before making your selections.  Keep portions small; one taste might be enough to quench a craving. 

Don’t let one slip-up get you down.  If you overindulge at a party one evening, get right back on track the next day.  The true pitfalls occur when slip-ups become routine.

Wise food choices are definitely essential during the holidays but remaining active is another important piece of the weight maintenance puzzle.  Try not to steer too far from your normal eating and exercise routine.  Keep all things in perspective and recognize the truth to the quote, “People are so worried about what they eat between Christmas and the New Year, but they really should be worried about what they eat between the New Year and Christmas.”   Take a step back and enjoy the reason for the season.