Healthy Habits for the Holidays 

Article from Lindsay Martin, MS, RDN, LDN

We look forward to this time of year, all year long! Holidays only come around once a year, so
why not go ahead and splurge? Because gaining weight during the holiday season is a national
pastime. Year after year, the average American gains about 6 pounds from Halloween to New
Year’s Day– and keep the extra weight permanently.

But Thanksgiving does not have to sabotage your weight, experts say. With a little know-how,
you can satisfy your desire for traditional favorites and still enjoy a guilt-free Thanksgiving feast.
After all, being stuffed is a good idea only if you are a turkey!

1. Get Active
Create a calorie deficit by exercising to burn off extra calories before you ever indulge in your
favorite foods. Eat less and exercise more is the winning formula to prevent weight gain during
the holidays. Increase your steps or lengthen your fitness routine the weeks ahead and
especially the day of the feast.

Make fitness a family adventure. Take a walk early in the day and then again after dinner. For
many families, a turkey trot or a local 5k is something to make an annual tradition. This will help
motivate you before the feasts to be training for the run as well as keeping you accountable for
the day of the race. It is a wonderful way for families to get physical activity and enjoy the
holiday together.

2. Eat Breakfast
While you might think it makes sense to save up calories for the big meal, eating a small meal in
the morning can give you more control over your appetite. Start your day with a small but
satisfying breakfast — such as an egg with a slice of whole-wheat toast, or a bowl of whole-grain
cereal with low-fat milk — so you won’t be starving when you arrive at the gathering.

Eating a nutritious meal with protein and fiber before you arrive takes the edge off your appetite
and allows you to be more discriminating in your food and beverage choices.

3. Lighten Up
Whether you are hosting Thanksgiving dinner or bringing a few dishes to share, make your
recipes healthier with less fat, sugar, and calories. There is more sugar and fat in most recipes
than is needed, and no one will notice the difference if you skim calories by using lower calorie

Try using fat-free, reduced sodium chicken broth to baste the turkey and make gravy. Use sugar
substitutes like Stevia or natural agave in place of sugar and/or fruit purees instead of oil in
baked goods. Swap out sour cream for plain Greek yogurt in creamy dips, mashed potatoes,
and casseroles. And maybe even consider using less butter when able.

4. Proper Portions

Thanksgiving tables are bountiful and beautiful displays of traditional family favorites. Before
you fill your plate, survey the buffet table and decide what you’re going to choose. Then select
reasonable-sized portions of foods you cannot live without.

Don’t waste your calories on foods that you can have all year long. Fill your plate with small
portions of holiday favorites that only come around once a year so you can enjoy desirable,
traditional foods. And don’t forget, let’s aim for half of your plate to be full of fruits and

5. Skip the Seconds
Try to resist the temptation to go back for second helpings. Leftovers are much better the next
day, and if you limit yourself to one plate, you are less likely to overeat and have more room for
a delectable dessert. That peanut butter fudge pie or pumpkin pie is just too good to not have
any, right? Choose the best bets on the buffet. While each of us has our own favorites, keep in
mind that some holiday foods are better choices than others.

White turkey meat, plain vegetables, roasted sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, thin gravy, and
pumpkin pie tend to be the best bets because they are lower in fat and calories. However, if you
keep your portions small, you can enjoy whatever you like.

6. Savor the Flavor
Eating slowly, putting your fork down between bites, and tasting each mouthful is one of the
easiest ways to enjoy your meal and feel satisfied with one plate full of food, experts say.
Choosing whole grains, fruits, vegetables, broth-based soups, salads, and other foods with lots
of water and fiber add to the feeling of fullness.

7. Drink in Moderation
Don’t forget those alcohol calories that can add up quickly. Have a glass of wine or a wine
spritzer and between alcoholic drinks, enjoy sparkling water. This way you stay hydrated, limit
alcohol calories, and stay sober. If you’re looking for a flavorful holiday drink to give you more
immune health, focus with an invigorating blend of 30 vitamins, minerals, and amino acids try
this Holiday favorite-
​ ​

– 1 packet tropical punch 4D
– 5 ice cubes
– sparkling water

—mix and top with your favorite fruits
like oranges and cranberries to give a
festive look! Enjoy!


8. Be Realistic and Give Grace
The holiday season is a time for celebration. With busy schedules and so many extra
temptations, this is a good time to strive for weight maintenance instead of weight loss.
This way, at the start of the new year you will be ahead of the game if you can avoid gaining any
weight over the holidays.

9. Focus on Family and Friends
The holidays are not just about the delicious bounty of food, it’s a time to celebrate relationships
with family and friends. The main event should be family and friends socializing, spending
quality time together, not just what is on the buffet—although that’s a perk to the gathering.

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