6 Healthy Eating Tips You Can Actually Follow This Holiday Season

By Regan Wilson

Whether you see the holidays as a glorious, sparkly time of year or as a drudgery of gift wrapping and slushy parking lots, you will likely be surrounded by loads of food and drink this month.​

Snack Heart
As it turns out, most Americans only gain about one pound of holiday weight, not the 5-10 pounds we often hear quoted, but even that will start to add up.  Every woman’s magazine is going to have an article in its December issue called, “Holiday Eating Do’s and Don’ts,” that should actually be called, “It’s a Season of Food and You Don’t Get Any!”  Their advice, “It’s a season of love and family, focus on that instead of food.”  Unfortunately they forgot that it’s the only time of year anyone makes homemade fudge and you want some.  Here’s my advice on eating from the end of November until the beginning of January:

    1. Eat the food you like.  When the buffet table is full of peanut brittle, chocolate dipped pretzels (mmm, salty and sweet), cheesy potatoes, carrots, celery and some wilted salad from a bag, do you think you should just have a flavorless salad with fat free dressing?  What if you allow yourself to have the food you want?  Ask yourself, “Which of these foods do I REALLY want to eat?” and then enjoy it!  Food is not “good” or “bad.”  Eat a satisfying amount of the food you really want to eat rather than eating the same number of calories from “good” food that never satisfies.
    2. Don’t eat the food you don’t like.  If you decide that you’re going to have a piece of fudge and then find out it’s gritty and doesn’t taste anything like you’d hoped, stick it under your napkin and toss it.  Same goes for mashed potatoes that taste like wallpaper paste and all the not-so-delicious “gifts” the neighbors bring over.  If the divinity’s not divine, don’t eat it.  The cost of eating more than you need is far greater than the cost of that brick someone called banana bread.
    3. No need to always adhere to the advice to “Have a snack before you go to the party to avoid over eating.”  Use your best judgment in these situations.  If you’re starving and it’s three hours until the party, then you should eat, but if you’re going to the party and will eat at your regular meal time, save the calories and savor your food.  The snack isn’t going to be so satisfying that you will have no interest in that spinach dip.
    4. Eat mindfully.  Don’t eat the candy cane just because it’s there, don’t fill your hand with cashews and just munch away without tasting them.  Slow down and pay attention to your food and to your feelings of hunger and fullness.  
    5. Remember that it’s OK to say, “No thank you.”  It’s polite and appropriate.  You don’t have to eat everything that comes your way.
    6. Finally, we know that regular exercise will keep the extra weight at bay—stick to your usual exercise routine!  Sure it’s a busy time of year, but maybe it’s more important to go for a long walk than to have handmade Christmas cards and a perfect lattice crust pie.