Column: Healthy Holiday Survival

Whether you’re a CEO or a stay-at-home mom, everyone needs a holiday plan

The holiday season is filled with parties, family gatherings and a lot of food. Just like a good business model, a little planning can go a long way. In this case, planning can keep you from eating too much and gaining weight over the holidays. Eating in a healthy (but not depriving) way and staying physically active will help you prevent weight gain, feel better and have more energy to enjoy the season. Follow the tips below to have a healthy and “lighter” holiday season.

Don’t skip meals

Skipping meals to save calories for the holiday party will just make you more hungry, crabby and tired. Try eating regular, light meals through the day and a snack before a party to take the bite out of your hunger.

Keep exercising

Make time in your hectic holiday schedule to keep up your exercise routine to help you reduce stress and fit in that occasional treat. If you quit an established routine it can be very hard to get it started again. Even if you have to reduce your workout time in half, stay in the exercise habit.

Keep healthy snacks at work

Small portions of healthy snacks can make it easier to resist treats that show up at work. Good choices are fresh fruit, two or three tablespoons of nuts, a cheese stick, a healthy snack bar or a carton of light yogurt.

Healthy party skills

  •  Survey the buffet table first, mentally making choices before serving yourself.

  •  Always fill your plate with lots of vegetables and fruit first.

  •  Include small amounts of the foods you love so you don’t feel deprived. Pick one treat that you would really enjoy and have a small portion of it. Then fill the rest of your plate with vegetables, fruits, whole grain crackers and small portions of cheese and lean meats.

Think before you drink

  •  Drink plenty of water as mild dehydration can make you feel like you are hungry.

  •  Water can slow you down if you sip it between bites and drink a glass of water before and between alcoholic beverages.

  •  Carry a glass of water or a diet soft drink at a party to keep your hands full and remind you of your plan to not over eat.

  •  Savor a cup of tea or coffee to help curb your desire for desserts.

  •  Limit or omit the regular sodas, high calorie coffee drinks and eggnog.

Celebrate In new ways that are less food focused

  •  Schedule a party that includes something physically active (walk, bowling, dancing, etc.)

  •  Have a healthy soup potluck with multiple soups, a green salad and only one or two desserts instead of a traditional potluck.

  •  Have conversation cards or a game at your party to get people engaged at a different level.


Jendy Newman is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator at Southwest Diabetes, Endocrine & Nutrition Center at Southwest Washington Medical Center.