Healthy holiday eating tips: how to enjoy yourself without overdoing it

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 9, 2020

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Oh, the holidays. Endless food options for the whole family can make it easier to overeat. Here are seven tips to enjoying yourself in a balanced way this holiday season.

Do not skip meals or ‘save calories’ for a holiday meal.

This sets you up to be overly hungry when the meal begins and can cause overeating. Skipping meals and overeating when you do eat is also bad for metabolism, which operates better when it has a consistent supply of food.

Definitely savor each bite.

It is important to eat slowly and wait before getting seconds because it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to get the signal that you are actually full. Remember to pace yourself. By savoring every delicious bite, you are more likely to take your time and stop when you have had enough.

Ask yourself “Am I still enjoying this?”

Whenever you are not sure if you are overeating, one question I recommend my clients ask at different points throughout the meals is, “Am I still enjoying this?” If the answer is yes, then consider continuing to eat. If the answer is no, you also have the option to take a break and then reevaluate the need for more food later. Remember, you can always come back for seconds. If you realize 20 minutes later you are still hungry, grab another bite.

Bring on the vegetables and eat them first.

Try to make half your plate vegetables. If there are no actual vegetables being served at your holiday supper, consider bringing a dish to the festivities. A lot of my clients find it helpful to eat your vegetables first. Before you enjoy the roasted turkey, savory stuffing and sweet potato pie, have a serving of the vegetable dish you brought to the party. This makes sure that you actually eat the vegetables (before getting full). And vegetables tend to be high in nutrients and fiber—a winning combination for overall health.

Be smart about beverages.

If you’re a big fan of eggnog-, cranberry- or peppermint-infused cocktails, enjoy one during your holiday party-hopping-but keep to just one for the night. Make a switch to something lighter (in calories and probably alcohol content) such as wine, a dark beer or an alcohol-free beverage like sparkling water.

Enjoy dessert, and be mindful while doing it.

There will likely be endless assortments of cakes, cookies, pies and ice cream at your holiday meal. Have some. Enjoy it. If you want to taste every dessert in attendance, consider having a small sampling of each.

Pay attention to what really matters.

Although food is an integral part of the holidays, put the focus on family and friends, laughter and cheer. If balance and moderation are your usual guides, it’s okay to indulge or overeat once in a while.


Lilli Rozanski, MS, RDN, LDN is a sports and fitness dietitian for Thibodaux Regional Health System. For more information or to schedule a nutrition consultation with a registered dietitian, contact Thibodaux Regional Wellness Education Center at 985-493-4765.