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Healthy Eating for the Holidays


Alvina Begay, R.D.

It is very easy to overeat during the holidays. Food seems to be everywhere. Holiday parties are filled with tasty foods and treats and calorie-laden drinks. And, let’s not forget all the gifts of home-baked sweets and traditional holiday recipes. No matter how disciplined a person may be, it is not easy to ignore all those beautiful and delicious holiday foods. Even just one small taste of several tasty treats can add up to more than someone wants to eat.

Eating tips to get you through the holidays:

• Don’t arrive at parties on an empty stomach; this can lead to overeating. Eat a light snack before going to parties - fresh fruit or vegetables are best.

• Reduce the fat in recipes when baking and cooking:
o Use low-fat food products
o Trim the fat off meat
o Use applesauce or other fruit puree instead of oil in breads, cakes and brownies.
o Use three egg whites in place of an egg yolk when baking

• Select small portions of your favorite foods and treats. If you choose to overindulge, make it worthwhile by eating something you really like.

• Eat slowly: take small bites and chew slowly. If you eat slowly you will be able to experience the feeling of being full and then you won’t raid the dessert table and will be able to eat in moderation.

• Leave the table when you are done.

• Make a plate of your favorite items and don’t socialize around the food table where you will be tempted to eat more and be unaware of how much you actually ate.

Drinking tips to get you through the parties:

• Use water or diet soda in mixed drinks as they will not add calories to your drink.

• Because most holiday beverages have excessive calories limit your consumption to only a few drinks

• Be aware of how many calories you are drinking
o Mixed drinks, wines and liquors have about 140-450 calories per glass.
o Drinks in punch bowls usually are full of sugar and calories – try diluting them with ice or water or diet tonic water

Take time for exercise:

It is easy to get so busy that exercise seems to be put on the back burner. However, during this busy, often stressful and food-tempting season, exercise is even more important. Not only will it help burn off some of those calories consumed, but exercise also eases stress, promotes good digestion and brings a sense of well-being.

• Add physical activity into your daily routine. Adults are encouraged to exercise 30 minutes a day.

• Make an afternoon or evening walk with friends and family a tradition.

Celebrate people – not food!

Think about the people you are with and celebrate the moment, rather than the food and the drink. The holidays are about spending time with those you love and care about. Have fun and make an effort to meet new people and share memories with family and friends. Happy Holidays!

Alvina Begay, R.D., is a registered dietitian in Flagstaff Medical Center’s Nutrition Services Department. For more information, call Behavioral Health Services at 213-6400.

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