Pace Yourself To Avoid Holiday Gluttony

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

The holiday season and food go hand in hand and calories can add up quickly. Even those who are health-conscious cannot resist all the temptations, but there are many ways to enjoy the holidays without packing on the pounds.

"Pace yourself. Eating slowly can help reduce overall intake over time," said Emily Lisciandro, a clinical dietician at the Ohio State University Medical Center. "Also, gauge your eating habits and if you find you have overindulged, eat sensibly in the days that follow."

Before going to a party, a healthy snack can curb your appetite and help you avoid less healthy options, say Lisciandro. Avoid the temptations of overeating by sipping on a beverage or chewing a piece of gum and don't use dieting after the holidays as an excuse to eat more, she advises.

There are still many healthy, seasonal food options such as turkey, fruits and vegetables, and the following minor changes will help you enjoy your favorite foods:

• Have a piece of pumpkin pie topped with fat-free whipped topping or a piece of angel food cake, which is better than eating a half-batch of iced cut-out cookies.


• Watch out for beverages loaded with calories. Choose hot cider instead of eggnog.

• Check cooking magazines for lighter versions of your favorite recipes.

• Substitute egg whites for whole eggs, use skim evaporated milk instead of heavy cream and look for fat-free or lighter versions of whipped toppings, cream cheese and other foods.

Lisciandro also suggests focusing on other fun holiday activities -- besides eating. "To burn extra calories, chop wood for a fire, take the stairs instead of the elevator, park further away when going to the mall, or participate in seasonal activities such as sledding, ice skating or skiing."

"If you already have an exercise regimen, don't stop," says Lisciandro, "Make time in your schedule to exercise just as you would for shopping and attending parties."

If you have family members or friends who encourage unhealthy eating, avoid the pressure by sharing your goals for staying healthy during the holiday season. Also, instead of having another piece, ask for small portions of leftovers so they can be enjoyed at a later time.