Healthy Holiday Eating

KVH Contributor*
Nicole Norton, MDA, RDN, CDE
KVH Diabetes Education

The holidays are upon us and many of us are preparing for gatherings with friends and family. Although it can be a joyful time of the year to celebrate, a common worry revolves around overindulging on holiday favorites, and the potential for weight gain and elevated blood sugars. While it isn’t necessary to deprive yourself during the holidays or feel guilty about eating sweets, there are several things you can keep in mind to make it through the holidays without going overboard.

One trick to prevent overeating is having a pre-snack before heading to a holiday party. Going on an empty stomach may leave you famished and overeating large quantities of less than ideal foods. Try a combination of complex carbohydrates with protein and healthy fats for a satisfying snack you can feel good about. Examples include an apple with almonds or whole wheat pita chips with hummus.

To avoid excess calories from mindless eating at parties, distance yourself from the food table. It may be easy to continuously eat with the temptation of appetizing food within arm’s reach, so dish up a plate and hold a conversation away from the food. If you find yourself tempted to return to the table often, chew a piece of gum to keep yourself from reaching for the snacks.

While alcohol is common for people to consume during the holidays, it can add several hundred calories on top of the calorie dense foods you may already be eating. Alcoholic beverages can range from 100 to 300 calories, depending on the alcohol and mixers. To reduce your calories, drink a glass of water or flavored seltzer water between drinks.

When it comes time for the big meal, be smart about your choices. Resist the urge to put everything on your plate. Scan the buffet first to check out all of your options so you can decide which items you are most interested in. And remember to pile on the veggies. A general rule for someone with diabetes to follow is to fill half the plate with vegetables. If you aren’t sure what foods will be available at the party, bring a vegetable dish so you know you’ll be able to include vegetables at the meal. Try parmesan mashed cauliflower or garlic roasted green beans.

Even with those additional vegetables, your overall calorie intake may still be higher than usual. Eating your meal slowly and stopping to take a break after finishing can help you allow time for the signal to get to your brain that you are full. Recheck your appetite before continuing to eat.

Continuing to stay active can help as well. Suggest a family walk after the big meal and before bringing out the dessert. Taking a 30 minute walk can burn about 109 calories for a 150 pound person, or 145 calories at 200 pounds; about the amount of calories in a scoop of ice cream or a cookie.

And in the end, remember to focus on more than food during the holidays. Focus on what matters most; spending quality time with friends and family, laughing, sharing stories and creating memories together. Cheers and happy holidays!

Resources: Harvard Health Publishing

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*Opinions expressed by KVH Contributors are their own. Managed by Kittitas Valley Healthcare, HealthNews does not provide medical advice. For medical advice, please see your healthcare provider.