Healthy Holiday Eating

Food is an important part of the holiday season. Whether your taste runs to old standbys or to
something new, it is easy for normal eating patterns to take a backseat at this time of
year. According to Barb Fuller, ISU Extension and Outreach Nutrition and Health Program
Specialist, by following a few tips on holiday eating, you and your family can enjoy special
foods while keeping a balanced and healthy diet.
There are no “good” and “bad” foods, only good and bad eating habits. Start by looking at “My
Plate”. Grain products, vegetables, fruits, dairy, and protein foods all have a place in a healthy
diet. A balanced diet provides energy, repairs and restores the body, and helps manage stress
and prevents mood swings.
What matters most is the total amount and types of food you eat over several days. Selecting
more fruits and vegetables, which are packed with important vitamins and minerals, while
choosing whole grains, lean protein foods and low fat dairy foods will provide a balanced diet.
Top ten survival tips:

  1.  Eat a light, healthy snack before a party. This will help you curb your hunger and make better choices.
  2. Limit alcohol. Enjoy one alcoholic drink, and then switch to diet soda or flavored water.
  3. Bring a low-fat holiday dish to the party, maybe some fruit or raw veggies.
  4. Keep minimal baked goods on hand. Only bake enough to give away or use for one party.
  5. Eat a large salad or hot broth based soup before a meal. This helps keep you full longer.
  6. Substitute healthier ingredients, replacing or reducing fat and sugar in baked goods.
  7. Make a goal with a friend to lose five pounds or to maintain weight during the holidays.  This way you have a valuable support buddy.
  8. Remember the holidays are truly only 3 days.  This means if you blow it on those three days, you won’t cause much damage. It is the vicious cycle of not enough exercise and too many calories on the other days that cause weight gain through the year.
  9. Sign up for a 5K or a fitness walk or other event to keep you focused on physical activity.
  10. Finally celebrate and focus on what the holidays are really about- family and friends.  Find creative activities or ways to get your family to play a game or be active instead of eating. Pick a time to get together that does not involve a meal.

Food and holiday gatherings go hand in hand. So join in and help yourself to tasty treats. If you have been exercising keep it up.  If you haven’t been getting enough exercise, it’s a great time to start. With a dash of discipline, and a touch of planning, you’ll have a great recipe for holiday fun without the regret that many of feel the next time we step on a scale.
If you have any questions, contact Barb Fuller at bfuller@iastate.eduor 641-202-1843.

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