Dietitian-Approved Guide: What Are Your Tips For Enjoying The Holidays Without Gaining Weight?

Holidays mean cookies, cocktails, and delicious traditional foods—the temptation to overindulge is difficult to resist. Summit’s nutrition and wellness team has some suggestions to help you enjoy holiday festivities and step into the new year at a healthy weight.

Food is emotional. A lot of us go to holiday parties and eat with the mindset that ‘I’m never going to see this food again—so I’m going to indulge now!’ We’ve all been there. We have a couple of tools that help you cultivate awareness of your mental state as well as physical hunger. Use the ideas that work for you to make better decisions about what you chose to eat.

Change the way you think to change the way you eat.

There’s a sense of all or nothing when it comes to food at the holidays. Try to make a mental adjustment in the way you think about that delicious food you want more of. Take a favorite holiday cake, for example. Tell yourself that it’s not going to disappear tomorrow, and if you want a second piece you don’t have to have it right now. Remind yourself that the cake will be here all week—and you can make it whenever you want. By mentally counteracting the sense that these treats will be ‘unavailable’ at other times, we can spread out our enjoyment without overindulging.

Have a plan before you get to the party.

Having a plan beforehand about how you are going to eat at a party can really help. If you are going to a gathering where you know there are going to be amazing cookies, decide in advance how many cookies you are going to eat. Bolster your intention by drinking a glass of water or having a healthful snack before the party so you don’t arrive hungry. When you feel full, it’s easier to fight the temptation to overindulge.

Try the “half plate” trick.

One approach that really works for many at Thanksgiving is the “half plate” guideline. Fill half your plate with vegetables. Butternut squash at Thanksgiving is amazing—and it is a vegetable! The half-plate approach can help you to enjoy Thanksgiving without filling up on the heavy foods like stuffing and gravy.

Take time to savor your favorite treats.

Take the cookie, or the plate of food that you planned to eat, and enjoy it slowly. It takes 20 minutes before you begin to feel full. Afterward, rest. Sip on a glass of wine or water and enjoy your surroundings. After 20 or 30 minutes, ask yourself if you still feel hungry. Be aware of your body’s signals. If you feel satisfied and full, it’s easier to resist or delay a dessert until later when you feel hungry again.

Focus on family and friends.

The holidays are about being together with the people we love—the friends and family we don’t see enough of in our busy lives. Instead of thinking, “I’m so excited for food,” think about how wonderful it is to catch up and enjoy the company of the people you value in your life.

Use the tips that appeal to you. Don’t make it stressful, because stress does lead to overeating. If you can use even one of these ideas, you’ll be on your way, and you’ll feel proud of yourself afterward. After all, no one has ever said, “I regret eating healthfully today.”

If you like these tips and are interested in more tools to achieve your nutrition goals, the Summit Wellness Center can help. Call for an appointment, and we’ll work with you to create a plan tailored to your individual health goals for the new year.

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