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Mother and daughter eating holiday sweets.

How to Draft a Healthy Holiday Eating Plan

December 16, 2014

To avoid holiday pounds, arm yourself with a game plan  The holiday dinners, the eggnog, the gifts of chocolate - let’s face it, temptations are lurking around every corner during the holiday season. With obesity on the rise, you may be wondering how to make the right choices during this busy time of the year.

The following suggestions from Loyola's registered dietitians will help you to stay on track:

  • Before a holiday event, eat a snack or a light meal so that you aren’t tempted to overeat later. Choose food that is high in fiber (such as fruits, veggies and whole grains) or high in protein (like chicken or peanuts). These foods can help you to stay full and eat less later on.
  • Bring a healthy dish such as a veggie or fruit tray to family functions to encourage your family members to eat better.
  • Be realistic. You don’t have to deprive yourself of all your favorite foods, but you should choose appropriate portion sizes. If you have the urge to clean your plate when presented with large portions, share with a friend, significant other or your children, or take smaller portion sizes if you are serving yourself.
  • Many of the calories that contribute to holiday weight gain can come from drinks. Limit eggnog, high-calorie cocktails and other alcoholic beverages. Instead, spice up your holiday with warm apple cider or stick to drinks such as diet sodas and flavored waters, which contain far fewer calories.
  • Why not bake your cake and eat it, too? When baking your favorite holiday goodies, swap out high-fat ingredients for healthier choices where you can. In many recipes, applesauce can be substituted for oil and whole milk can be swapped with low-fat milk.
  • If you are craving sweet holiday treats, it’s OK to have some but limit the amount and pair it with food of nutritional value.
  • Choose active gifts. Give gifts that encourage more movement, such as interactive, “get off the couch” games or sporting equipment.
  • Don’t forget to stay physically active. Participate in fun outdoor winter activities, such as building a snowman, ice skating or cross-country skiing.

– Loyola Medicine dietitians