December 3, 2010


LEWISBURG, Tenn. — Food and holidays tend to go hand in hand. Studies have shown that the average American will gain between two to five pounds during the holiday season. To maintain a healthier holiday diet, Marshall Medical Center (MMC) offers tips to help keep the pounds off this season.

“Simply focusing on the quantities and types of foods you eat during the holidays can make a big difference,” said Keri Howell, a dietitian seeing patients at MMC. “Excess weight gain during the holidays often comes from eating too many foods that are high in fat and sugar. Don’t deprive yourself of a small portion of your favorite holiday treat on special occasions, but be sure to balance your choices with healthy fruits and vegetables.

Howell offers a few simple tips to help you stay healthy during the holidays:

  • Look for healthy substitutes for ingredients in your holiday dishes. Use low-fat or skim milk products instead of whole milk products, or try swapping applesauce for oil in your baked goods.
  • Avoid grazing while you prepare in the kitchen. Taking a bite here and there while you’re cooking can add up and stack on extra calories.
  • Snack before you arrive at a party. You will most likely overeat if you are hungry when you arrive at a holiday gathering involving food.
  • Prepare a healthy dish. Bringing a tossed salad, vegetable plate or fruit dish to a holiday party will ensure that there is a healthy option for you and your friends.
  • Eat smaller portions of food. This is especially important at potluck gatherings, where you may want to try everything. Choose the items you enjoy the most, and eat a small portion of each.  
  • Exercise. After a meal, go for a walk with your family to see holiday decorations in your neighborhood or play an active game on the Wii with your children.
  • Alternate drinking alcoholic beverages with water. Not only will you decrease the excess calories that are in most wines, beers and cocktails, you’ll also have a safer night.
  • Mingle. Don’t stand by the food table all night where you will be tempted to go back for second helpings.

No certain food or holiday meal will make or break a diet. However, the bad eating habits that so often accompany winter festivities will. Indulging in high-calorie holiday treats day after day is a bad habit to get into and one that can become hard to break. Decide when and where you will treat yourself to a few favorite holiday items and don’t allow yourself to go overboard. Eating intentionally during the holidays will result in a better outcome on the scale and your health.