The combination of tempting sweets, savory recipes and family gatherings makes it a tough time to stick to healthy eating habits.
Though it’s anticipated that the nutritional guard may be let down slightly, clinical dietitian Brittney Zack said it’s still crucial to think about the meals and snacks you’re indulging in.
“The holidays are one of the most tempting times of the year,” she said. “People usually have a conscious notion of when they are eating ‘poorly.’ So if you feel as though you are about to eat something that will bring on guilt, regret or excess pounds — simply don’t do it!”
“The few minutes of indulgence will likely be very enjoyable, but the consequences may not be worth it,” she added.
Zack, who practices with the Uniontown Hospital, instead offered a few tips for making it through the holiday season unscathed. Though it might sound simple, Zack said it’s a matter of eating in moderation. It’s also crucial to maintain your regular exercise routine around the holidays, hoping that “the scale (as well as your waistline) should remind relatively unaffected.”
One of the points that she stressed was that foods that are deemed nutritionally poor this time of year are likely the same ones that are nutritionally poor year-round.
“There is just an abundance of these foods present this time of year — at the office, at parties, at family gatherings,” he said.
She also recommended paying attention to your plate when you’re at those social gatherings, noting that those events are “not necessarily focused around eating specific foods, but more so the general act of eating.”
“Recognizing all of your menu options and thinking through your choices to make a health-conscious plate will very likely lead to less guilt than a plate full of ‘junk,’ and it will still give you the means to snack among guests doing the same without the feeling of depriving yourself,” Zack said, adding that those healthier plates might consist of fruits, vegetables, whole grain crackers with a few small cheese cubes and maybe even a small cookie.
To help cut the calories this time of year, personal trainer and nutrition and wellness coach Jamie Logie said it might be a good idea to even eat before going to those parties and social gatherings.
“This is going to help you in avoiding diving head first into the gingerbread house. When you’re really hungry, your body wants quick energy, usually that centers around quick calorie-dense ‘foods’ that contain a lot of sugar and fat,” said Logie, who is also an author and podcaster in Canada. “Our bodies are programmed to crave these things — the problem is the versions of these types of things have become very artificial and can lead to a whole bunch of problems including weight gain.”
“To avoid going through the treat table like the Tazmanian Devil, have a whole foods-based meal that contains protein, soluble fiber and healthy fats to keep you fuller and for longer,” Logie said.
She also recommended eating at a slower pace and focusing on the better food options like proteins and veggies.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.