Health Break | Published December 19, 2005 | Written by Joeleen Davis & Joan Savage

Top 10 Tips For Keeping Trim During The Holidays

Once again the holiday season is here. While attending social events, holiday parties and enjoying homemade baked goods, you may find yourself gaining a few pounds. The average American gains about 10 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Years. Below are 10 tips you can follow to avoid feeling as stuffed as a Thanksgiving turkey.

  1. Portion size, portion size, portion size! When enjoying high-fat foods such as gravies, sauces, eggnog, fried foods and desserts, do so in moderation. Remember that fat has twice as many Calories as protein or carbohydrate. Follow these tips to keep your portion sizes in check:

    • Use smaller plates

    • Avoid second helpings

    • Don't feel obligated to eat everything on your plate

  2. Don't go to holiday parties hungry. Just as it is not a good idea to go grocery shopping when you are hungry, don't go to a holiday party hungry. When you are hungry, you are more likely to make poor food choices, and overeat. Have a small meal or snack of high fiber, low-fat foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables with peanut butter before you go.

  3. Make decisions about what you will eat before going to a holiday event. Set limits on the amount of high-fat foods you will eat. Simply being aware of what you are eating and drinking will help you eat sensibly.

  4. Offer to bring a low-fat dish to a holiday event. This will ensure that there is at least one healthy dish present at the event.

  5. Move! Continue to get 30 minutes of exercise daily. This will help you reduce stress, maintain your waistline and avoid holiday weight gain. Physical activity also helps you feel better during this stressful time of year.

  6. Cook at home as much as possible. It is easy to choose convenience foods during this hectic time of year, but these foods are generally higher in fat and Calories than a homemade meal. Portion leftover casseroles, soups or your homemade TV dinners in freezable plastic containers when you need to make a hot meal quickly.

  7. Enjoy the holidays. Don't diet during the holiday season. Instead, try to maintain your present weight.

  8. Select foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grain breads and cereals for the highest amount of nutrients in your diet as possible.

  9. Drink water, especially when consuming alcohol. Drinking a glass of water between each drink of alcohol will keep you hydrated and reduce the chance of overeating or overdrinking.

  10. Pace yourself. Trying to hold plates of food, beverages and shaking hands with party guests can cause you to eat more and faster than you realize. Concentrate on enjoying each sip and each bite. Eat slowly and chew thoroughly. Limit your trips to the buffet or appetizer table. Pay attention to your hunger cues. Don't eat if you're not hungry and don't stand next to the food table.

Healthy eating doesn't mean cutting out all your favorite foods. So during this special time of the year, spend time with friends and loved ones, follow special holiday traditions, relax and enjoy your favorite holiday foods in moderation. Your holiday will be more enjoyable if you do. Save dieting for your New Years resolution.

Joeleen Davis is a registered dietitian and clinical dietitian at Mount Nittany Medical Center. Joan Savage is a dietetic intern at Mount Nittany Medical Center.