Healthy Eating Tips to Get You Through the Holidays

Share This Story DIANE HENDERIKS, Health Contributor, ABC News Good Morning America

(NEW YORK) –What would you rather do: spend two weeks on a deserted island or eat healthy during the holidays?  A majority of us may choose the deserted island since the notion of healthy holiday eating brings feelings of deprivation, temptation and frustration.  It does not have to be that way! Change those thoughts to satisfaction, conviction and gratification!  With a bit of preparation and planning you can not only survive but enjoy this jovial time.  The expectations that many of us have this time of year are unrealistic especially since the holiday season is the toughest time of the year to maintain healthy eating habits.  Remember that moderation is the key to avoiding those extra holiday pounds without passing up the festivities.  Make weight maintenance your goal and not weight loss at this time.

Here’s what you can do to stay on track during the holidays and avoid watching January roll around only to make the same old resolutions.

10 Healthy Holiday Tips

1.  Stay committed to your training program.  Exercise! Exercise! Exercise!

Physical activity is a wonderful weight management tool at this and every time of the year. Exercise can also help relieve stress, regulate appetite, and burn up extra calories. Our frenzied holiday schedules may tempt us to stray from our exercise regimen but you need to stay active to avoid weight gain.

2.  Try everything, but be aware of portion sizes.

Eat small portions of a variety of foods rather than a large portion of one food.  When you are eating a food that you know is not the healthiest choice, learn to satisfy yourself with a small portion.  Do not feel that you must “clean your plate.”

3.  Eat breakfast every morning and never skip meals.

Breakfast is truly the most important meal of the day.  It jump starts your metabolism and helps to stave off hunger and cravings.  Skipping meals can easily lead to unhealthy food choices.  You never want to leave a meal totally full or enter a meal totally starving.

4.  Limit alcohol consumption.

At first, select sparkling water with a citrus wedge which is very refreshing.  If you do choose to then imbibe, alternate cocktails with unsweetened iced tea or seltzer to reduce the quantity of alcohol consumed. Drink 1 glass of non alcoholic, unsweetened beverage for each alcoholic beverage consumed.  Choose wine, light beer or spirits mixed with no calorie beverages.

5.  Drink lots of water.

Drinking water can decrease the chance of overeating by temporarily filling your stomach.  Also, caffeine and alcohol can lead to dehydration which increases your need for water.

6.  Choose sensible munchies.

When you first arrive to a party, choose mostly fruits and vegetables and dip with veggies instead of chips.   Limit fried foods, high-fat sauces and gravies and cheese cubes.

7.  Eat slowly and stop when you feel satisfied.

Listen to your stomach!   It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to signal your stomach that you’ve had enough.  Pay attention to what it feels like to be satisfied and not full.

8.  Temptation is everywhere – Don’t let it sneak up on you.

Never go to a party or event hungry. Prepare yourself for distractions by eating before you go.  Have a small meal or a snack which contains a combination of carbohydrate, protein and a little healthy fat to fend off hunger, such as natural peanut butter on whole wheat bread or low fat cottage cheese with fresh fruit.

9.  Visualize success.

Make an action plan! Think about where you will be, who you will be with and what foods will be available.  It’s much easier to deal with a difficult social eating situation if you’ve already planned for it. Parties are a time to mingle with friends and loved ones. Focus on conversation and nostalgia instead of on the food and drinks. Food very often is center stage of any party but you can guarantee success by visualizing the enjoyment of the company and not just the food and drink.

10.  Deprivation leads to overindulgence.

Don’t spend all your time obsessing over the not-so-healthy delicacy that you’re really craving. Instead, allow a small portion and savor every mouthwatering bite so that you do not feel deprived.

Eating a bit too much one day is not the end of the world!  It takes consecutive days of unhealthy eating to gain weight. If you slip up, put it behind you and return to your healthy eating plan.  You are in control of your lifestyle choices so choose wisely.  It’s all about lifestyle changes, not diets.

Diane Henderiks is a registered dietitian, the founder of and a Good Morning America health contributor.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Respond to this story