How to Navigate the Holiday Season
By Dana Babeu, R.D. | November 18, 2019
Navigating the holiday season can be difficult, however, with a little planning you can celebrate without stress. Here are a few tips to help you make it through the holidays and still achieve your weight loss goals.
- Eat slowly: Savor every bite. The holidays are a time to semi-indulge, but do so with intention. Chew thoroughly for optimal digestion and put down your fork to chat in between bites.
- Limit liquid calories: Alcoholic drinks and sugar-sweetened beverages can contribute a significant amount of empty calories to your diet. Alcohol consumption is also linked to increased hunger. Try to steer clear of sodas and juices and stick to infused or sparkling water instead . If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation and choose lower-calorie options. Best bets at the bar include a 5-ounce glass of red wine, 12-ounce serving of beer or 1 ½ ounces of a clear liquor like whisky, vodka or gin mixed with club or diet soda. Each of these contains less than 120 calories. (For health reasons men should stick to a maximum of 2 alcoholic drinks per day and women no more than 1.)
- Don’t go hungry: Never arrive to a party famished. Have a small, protein-packed snack to take the edge off hunger before you go. This way you’ll be more in control of your choices and less likely to overeat.
- Watch portion sizes: It’s easy to consume larger portions of food during the holiday season when everything looks so tempting. Eat off a smaller plate or share with someone else so you don’t over-indulge.
- Focus on protein: Many holiday dishes are loaded with carbohydrates that won’t keep you full for long. Fill at least three-quarters of your plate with protein and vegetables to keep you feeling full and satisfied.
- Bring a healthy dish to share: Contribute to the festivities with your own healthy dish! This way there will be something you’re accustomed to eating and it gives others a chance to try it out. A hearty winter salad or assortment of roasted veggies are healthy and festive choices.
- Get enough sleep: Sleeping less than 7-8 hours most nights may lead to increased hunger. Prioritize sleep as much as you can during the holiday season. Turn off the TV and power down your phones and tablets to reduce exposure to sleep suppressing blue light.
- Plan physical activity with family & friends: Work out before you get to the party or take part in a family walk after dinner. Either way, get up and get moving. This way you can still spend quality time with your family without the entire focus being on food.
Dana Babeu, RD, is a registered dietitian at New Jersey Bariatric Center, a medical & surgical weight loss center with offices in Springfield, Somerville, Hoboken, East Brunswick, Hackettstown and Sparta, New Jersey. She provides pre-operative and post-operative nutritional counseling to New Jersey Bariatric Center’s Gastric Bypass, Gastric Sleeve, LAP-BAND (gastric band) and revision patients, in addition to dietary counseling for patients in our Medical Weight Loss program.