Portneuf Health Partners

November 14th, 2017

Helpful Hints to Avoid the Holiday Bulge

By: Krista Diekemper, RD, LD

lovely display of food on a buffet table

As we enter the holiday season, our calendars are sure to be filling up with commitments to holiday dinners, parties, and festivities of the season, all which seem share a common denominator of an overabundance of delicious food.  While this time of year might be the only time you can have some of Grandma’s famous cookies, or Aunt  Sue’s amazing casserole, it is important to keep a couple of hints in mind to avoid having to spend the first three months of the new year trying to shed the weight you gained during the holiday season.  The following are some tips to help you enjoy the food you love without going overboard.

  • Before attending a holiday party or dinner, be sure to eat a healthy breakfast and a healthy lunch. Often times, people will skip the preceding meals telling themselves that they are saving the calories for the upcoming evening.  The problem with this is that the individual then arrives at the party ravenously hungry because they haven’t eaten all day and as a result, they have a very difficult time practicing portion control.  Furthermore, the food that they are overindulging on is usually high fat and high sugar, with limited amounts of vegetables.
  • Be sure to stay hydrated this holiday season, drinking at least 64 ounces of water a day. In the summer months this is not a problem for people as they are often thirsty due to the heat.  However, as the cold weather arrives, it is easy to not think about drinking some cold water.   When you do not drink enough water you become dehydrated, which in turn causes your body to send you signals that you are hungry, when in fact it is just thirsty.  This often results in people eating when they should just be drinking some water.
  • When arriving at a holiday dinner buffet, survey the table and identify your must have foods out of the smorgasbord. Secondly, fill a good portion of your plate with some vegetables, and then proceed to serve yourself a small amount of your must have foods.  Keep in mind that 3 bites of a food will typically satisfy a craving, so aim for about 3 bites worth of each of your favorites.
  • Once you have plated your food, go and have a seat at the table, being sure to eat slowly and enjoy the food and the company you are with. It helps if you put your fork down between bites.  The goal is to make your dining experience last at least 20 minutes, as this is the amount of time it takes your brain to get the signal from your stomach that you are full.
  • Limit your intake of sweetened beverages or alcoholic drinks to 1 or 2 as the calories in these can add up quick. So once you have met your quota for drinks, switch to water, and work on meeting your goal of 64 oz or 8 cups of water a day.
  • After eating avoid loitering around the food tables, as this can lead to mindless grazing. Instead, consider taking an after dinner stroll or engaging in a game of family football.

Hopefully, some of these tips can help you enjoy this holiday season, and prevent you from having to welcome 2018 with a jolly Saint Nick waistline.