Healthy Eating Tips for the Holidays

Jessica Kelly, MPH, CHES
Health Educator
Livingston and Millburn Health Department
jekelly@livingstonnj.org
973-535-7961 ext. 227

Healthy Eating Tips for the Holidays

healthy-eating-heart

As we get together with family and friends to celebrate the holidays, we will be enjoying lots of delicious food. During the holiday season, the average American will gain one-two pounds. Even though the weight gain is slight this can be avoided. Below are a few tips on making healthier choices during the holiday season that can help avoid weight gain and help maintain good health.
1. Don’t Skip Meals: If you skip a meal before a holiday celebration you are more likely to overeat and consume more calories. Be sure to have breakfast in the morning which will help you consume fewer calories during the day. Also, if you are eating a meal that is later than you would normally eat, have a small snack first then eat a little less when you have the meal.
2. Be Mindful of Portion Sizes: Grab a smaller plate and fill it with small portions of the foods that you enjoy. Additionally, by using a smaller plate you can trick your brain into thinking that you are eating more food then you really are. Start by having a salad or some vegetables/fruit so you’ll be less likely to fill up on foods that are higher in calories.
3. Slow Down when you Eat: It takes about 20 minutes for your body to feel full from eating. Eat more slowly, and wait about 10 minutes before going back for seconds.
4. Bring a Healthy Dish: If you are asked to bring something, choose a healthy dish to bring.
5. Be Physically Active: The holiday season tends to be a busy time of year. Try and find time to get some exercise, whether it is going for a walk, going to the gym, taking an exercise class, working out at home, or doing some chores (even shoveling snow counts). It is recommended that adults get at least 2.5 hours of physical activity each week, which can be broken down into 10 minute intervals or whatever works best for you.
6. Distance yourself from the Food: Sit away from the food table, so you’ll be less likely to grab more food and overeat. Have gum or breathe mints to keep you from getting more food.
7. Rethink your Drink: Some drinks contain a lot of calories, for instance a grande chai eggnog latte from Starbucks contains 400 calories, a 5oz glass of wine is about 125 calories, and a regular 12oz cola is about 140 calories. Water, diet, or unsweetened beverages which contain less sugar and calories, can be an alternative drink. If you’re ordering a flavored coffee drink at
a coffee shop you can lower the calories by; ordering the smallest size, asking for low fat or fat free milk, asking for less flavoring to be added, and/or asking for no whip cream which will help save calories. If you are drinking beverages that contain alcohol, be sure to drink them with food and make sure you have a designated non drinking driver to take you home.
8. Don’t go to the Food Store Hungry: If you go to the food store to shop for the holidays on an empty stomach, you’ll be more inclined to pick up tasty treats at the store. Instead wait until after you have eaten first or have a snack before going.
9. Keep Healthy Snacks at Work: Offices tend to have more treats available for their staff during the holiday season. By keeping healthy snacks with you at work, you can have a healthy snack in place of a treat if you get hungry or enjoy a smaller amount of the treat.
10. Substitute Your Ingredients: When cooking or baking use less butter, cream, etc. or substitute ingredients such as whole milk with low fat milk. Being mindful of your ingredients will help you decrease the amount of saturated fat, sodium, sugar, and/or cholesterol.
We wish you and your family a Happy and Healthy Holiday Season!
For further educational information contact Jessica Kelly, MPH, CHES Health Educator for Livingston Health Department at 973-535-7961 ext. 227