Healthy Holiday Tips from Registered Dietitians
By Carly Hagemann, Recruitment Coordinator
Staying healthy during the holiday season can be difficult. Throughout Thanksgiving and Christmas there are often tempting sugar-filled desserts, snacks, and comfy couches to lay on that we typically choose over healthier options. To help combat this phenomenon, we reached out to Registered Dietitians who worked with Dietitians On Demand in the past and those currently working with us to provide their favorite tips for staying healthy this holiday season.
Don’t over-indulge all holiday season and plan to change your diet in January. Go into the season with a new plan and motivation and you won’t have so much to undo in January.
-Alicia Davis, RD
Try to fill half of your plate with non-starchy vegetables!
-Brooke Seibert, MS, RD
Be mindful of liquid calories. Eggnog, punch, and alcoholic drinks can be loaded with empty calories. Choose a spritzer with club soda and drink in moderation.
-Julie Andrews, RD
My favorite tips for staying healthy during the holiday season are: 1) enjoy active past times with family and friends like walking, playing football outside, hiking, cycling, 2) create healthier twists on traditional recipes, for example, try swapping an apple crisp made with steel cut oats, cinnamon, and coconut oil, versus apple pie, and 3) mindfully indulge in your favorite treats in moderation, by fully enjoying smaller portions of your favorites you won’t feel deprived, but rather satisfied!
-Amy Good, RD
Make exercise a priority. Schedule it daily. This is easier said than done, but very important. Also, make vegetables the focus of your meals, not an afterthought. Don’t think “Oh, I guess I need a vegetable to go along with the turkey.” Try new vegetables and new recipes to keep things interesting. And remember, food tastes better when you smile and when you are sharing.
-Lisa Hugh, MSHS, RD, LDN, CWCA, AACCWS, CPHQ, CLT
Tip 1: Avoid skipping meals to save for a BIG meal later. Instead make sure you eat small, frequent meals to avoid over indulging later. Tip 2: Fill your plate with veggies and eat those first. Tip 3: When consuming mixed alcoholic beverages, use sugar free or diet mixers instead of high calorie options.
-Teena M Wilkerson (Felton), MS, RD, CSG, LDN
Don’t deny yourself the foods that you love and may only get to eat once a year. Skip the items you can live without. For example, if the choices are warm buttered rolls, mashed potatoes, stuffing and sweet potato casserole, have the one you love and don’t feel guilty about it. Keep a drink with lots of ice in one hand and your phone or camera in the other while circulating at a holiday get together. You won’t have a free hand to nibble from the bowl of mixed nuts or chips.
-Roberta Tripp, MS, RD, LDN
Experiment with your favorite recipes by substituting less healthy items for more healthy ones! For example swap out full fat items for reduced or fat free, add smashed bananas or apple sauce in place of cups of refined sugar, and try unrefined flours like oat, millet, or whole wheat for more fiber.
– Tracy Palmatier, RD, LDN
My tips for staying healthy are: take care of YOURSELF. Giving to those who do not have much is the priority. As far as healthy eating, use small plates, and taste a little bit of everything.
– Toni Ullrich, MS, RD, LDN
Enjoying special holiday dishes is part of enjoying the holiday. Flavor, not quantity is what we enjoy. Slow down, enjoy each bite and help to make the flavor linger by chewing your food thoroughly.
– Barbara Craven, RD
My best advice for the holidays is to “drink plenty of water every day and maintain your exercise schedule!” The water helps a person stay full and the exercise burns calories and helps a person stay centered.
-Heather Banks-Blackburn, RD
I have a type 1, diabetic 2 year old son and a tip I like to recommend for type 1 diabetics at the holidays for counting carbs is this: Use measuring cups in place of serving spoons in dishes to make counting carbs easier-this is also helpful to be more mindful of portions during the holidays. In addition if everyone is getting their food this way it makes the person who is type 1 diabetic not feel different from everyone else. November is diabetes awareness month too and that’s also why I love this tip!
-Malissa Sarver, MS, RD, LD
I stay healthy by getting up at least a half hour early to complete my exercise routine every weekday morning before work or other daily activities. Exercising for me is as routine as brushing my teeth every morning.
-Sharon Garland, RD
Always use a smaller plate, you’ll be less likely to overeat, plus if you go up for seconds it won’t be as large of a portion either.
-Kimberly Brown, MS, RD, LD
Enjoy foods at the holidays that you don’t usually cook. For example, if you only have stuffing once or twice a year, enjoy that and skip the foods you may commonly prepare (potatoes, bread). You can have a dessert but watch your portion size and savor every bite. Eat until satisfied and not stuffed and you can always enjoy leftovers the next day.
-Marian Flocco, RD
Participate in a holiday race, such as a local Turkey Trot. It’s a great way to get some exercise while contributing to a great cause.
-Alison Sacks, RD
I usually make a healthy dish that I can enjoy to avoid having to rely on the abundance of unhealthy options. It also allows me to share tasty healthy alternatives with others.
-Diane Hodge, RD
This holiday season, try and enjoy all the food groups of your plate make it a healthy 2015! Some of the mindful eating approaches include portion control and planning ahead for the celebration with your family and friends. Take advantage of the smartphone apps that can help us track and manage what we eat.
-Suchitra Nathan, RD
*A special thanks to all of the Registered Dietitians featured in this post.
(Featured photo by Satya Murthy)