Splurge Wisely Over the Holidays

The holidays come just once a year, but the yummy foods at parties/events and holiday gifts seem to never end. Read how to choose wisely from the foods available in the Q & A interview with Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist, Michaela Kruse.

Q: Why should we care about eating healthy through the holidays?
A: To avoid the weight gain, weight cycling, setting up bad habits that continue later, etc.

Q: There are so many holiday temptations! How are we supposed to fight off all of the unhealthy temptations from the holidays?
A: You shouldn’t! If you take the approach of trying to use self-control to fight off your cravings and desires for your favorite things, you will be setting yourself up for failure. Instead set reasonable goals for every situation. You want to find the balance where you don’t beat yourself up for not following a perfect diet. But you also don’t allow over-indulgences to go unchecked. Decide what you will splurge on in advance and what reasonable changes you can make that will make your diet healthier but still leave you satisfied. I recommend setting three specific goals for each party (i.e. At this party, I will: not graze, limit to one small dessert, and eat slowly and stop when I am full). If you meet your goals, feel good about your choices. The point is to not let your eating be mindless. Only eat foods if you really enjoy them, not just because they are there. After all, this isn’t your last meal!

Q: So, what goals would you recommend to help be healthier through the holidays?
A: Here are three goals:

  1. Don’t skip meals or go into a bad situation hungry. Fill up on vegetables and water first (possibly even before you get to the party), so you can slowly savor the higher calorie foods without over-eating. Taste buds are in your mouth, not your stomach. So if you really enjoy the taste of food, allow yourself to taste it for as long as possible. Do this by increasing the length of time you spend eating the food, not by increasing the quantity of food you eat. So many times, when we get our favorite foods, we eat them faster, not slower, which makes no sense. If you like a food, savor it!
  2. Make it a priority to NOT overeat. Even if you aren’t making healthy choices, if you eat slowly and stop when you are full (not stuffed), you aren’t going to run into too much trouble. So, go ahead and dish up your favorite foods, then sit down, and slowly and mindfully taste every bite.
  3. Find ways to be more active than usual to balance out your increased calorie intake. Incorporate some holiday traditions that don’t revolve around food. For example, there are lots of 5Ks and races the morning after Thanksgiving. Even non-runners could walk the course.

Q: Can you provide any help along the way?
A: Of course! You don’t have to do this alone. The Mettler Center has a wide variety of fitness equipment, professionals, and services to help as well as myself, the Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist. I can help you through individual counseling sessions, at home nutrition makovers, or dietitian-led support groups. The best place to start is with a free consultation with me. Or, if you have a question, “Ask an Expert.