Healthy eating tips to keep a balanced diet during the holidays

Following a balanced diet during the holidays certainly helps prevent overeating. (Courtesy of Lifedics)

Following a balanced diet during the holidays certainly helps prevent overeating. (Courtesy of Lifedics)

The holidays at year’s end are the most challenging time of the year for maintaining a balanced diet. But a few healthy eating tips can go a long way in helping you to make the right food choices. It could be mom’s home cooking or your own concoction whipped up on a hot plate in your dorm room. Whatever your challenge, it’s still possible to stay healthy while enjoying the festivities of the season.

Keep a balanced diet

Traditional American Thanksgiving fare is a mixture of the healthy with the dangerous. Squash and yams are chock full of vitamins and fiber. But if you slather them with butter and sugar, as many do, then you’ve just blown your good intentions.

The same can be said of turkey. It’s a lean meat, but drown it in fat-filled gravy and now you’ve passed over into diet fail. How can you enjoy all your favorite foods without going overboard?

In a November 11, 2013 article for Women’s HealthMag.com by Alson Goldman titled, “3 Ways to Eat Healthy This Holiday Season,” The Extra TV host Maria Menounos provided answers.

After piling your plate with food, Maria suggests that you rotate around the plate taking bites from each different dish. “If you switch between dishes as you munch, you’ll get a little taste of everything before you fill up—which means you’ll have the fun of sampling lots of homemade goodies without going overboard,” Goldman explained.

Healthy eating tips

Other healthy eating tips come from registered dietician Kristin Kirkpatrick. In her November 18, 2013 article for the Cleveland Clinic Health Hub titled, “10 Tips for Holiday Party Season: Google+ Hangout on Air,” Kirkpatrick gave a list of easy suggestions.

The first tip: Don’t eat on an empty stomach. This just makes sense. If you nibble on some cheese, nuts or crackers before you head off to a party, you’ll have a better chance of eating sensibly.

Along the same line, Kirkpatrick suggests that you go to the end of the serving line to get your food. Those tasty dishes won’t look nearly as tempting after everyone else has picked them over.When it comes to filling your plate, no piling. It’s a plate, not the Empire State Building. And make it a rule not to go back for more helpings.

Perhaps Kirkpatrick’s most helpful tip concerns alcohol, which can add hundreds of extra calories to your meal. “And keep in mind that the more drinks you have, the lower your inhibitions — and the greater your chances of mindless overeating,” Kirkpatrick warned.

Keep moving

The trouble with eating a big dinner is that afterward you just want to pass out in front of the computer or television. Bad idea according to Nick Downing. As the strength and conditioning coach for the New England Revolution soccer team, Downing knows how to balance fitness with festivities.

In his November 19, 2013 article for Boston.com titled, “10 tips for healthy holidays,” Downing offered his ideas for finding balance during the holidays.

After that big holiday dinner Downing suggested, “Help clear the dishes. Go for a family stroll around the block. Play with the kids. Just keep moving for 30 minutes after you eat, and your metabolism will keep burning.”

Other healthy diet tips

Here’s a rundown of other tips to help you maintain healthy habits during the holidays.

  • Load up on salad, broth soups and vegetables first before you hit the heavy-calorie foods.
  • Don’t eat just to please someone. Yeah, mom made all your favorites but you don’t have to eat every bite. Let mom know that you appreciate all of the wonderful things that she has done for you over the years.
  • Take small bites and chew your food slowly. You’ll feel full sooner and enjoy your food more.
  • Stop eating when you feel that you’re getting full but before you enter the danger zone.
  • Bring your own healthy dish to the party. Then there will be at least one thing that you can eat guilt-free.
  • Instead of alcohol, drink water (mineral, seltzer, plain) with a twist of lemon or lime.
  • Avoid the finger foods. When mingling, stay far away from bowls of chips, dips and other calorie-rich foods. Focus on carrots and celery if you want to nibble.

What healthy eating practices do you follow during the holidays? Tell us about them in the comments below.

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