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  • Writer's pictureEloise Palmateer, RDN, LD

Healthy Eating in the Holiday Season

'Tis the season of... overeating! Between the holiday happy hours, Thanksgiving feasts, office parties, among countless other food-related gatherings, this time of year brings one obstacle after another when it comes to making healthy choices. Check out the tips below to help you fare better over the holidays (pun intended).

Construct your overarching holiday game plan.

Imagine you have a work project you're trying to knock out of the park to bring you one step closer to getting that raise. The first thing you'd do to get started is come up with a step-by-step action plan to tackle it, right? The first step toward tackling a health or nutrition goal should look no different. Below are some points to think through to set the foundation for your holiday game plan. Consider writing your answers down so you can periodically refer back and add to the list:

  • What is your overarching health goal? Why do you wish to accomplish this? What value will this add to your life?

  • How will the holidays affect your progress? What specific obstacles will they bring?

  • What went well for you last year that you could repeat again this year? What did not go well, that you could adjust your behaviors around this time around?

  • What are three smaller goals or objectives that will help you steer you toward your larger picture goal?

Write out your daily plan on each morning of an event. In addition to having an overarching holiday game plan in place, jotting down mini goals can help us keep ahead of each obstacle that pops up. The more specific, the better! For example, instead of planning to "keep drinking to a minimum," put a number to how many alcoholic beverages you'll consume, or come up with a specific time to cut drinking off. Keep this checklist of action items in your phone or on your desk to serve as a reminder leading up to the event.

Stay hydrated. It's important to drink plenty of water when you have a festivity or food-related event coming up. Staying properly hydrated and balancing your fluid intake over the course of the day will help regulate your appetite to prevent overindulging. Aim to consume at least half your body weight in ounces of plain water, water infused with fruit, sparkling water, and herbal/decaf tea.

Fill up on protein and veggies first. When choosing your meal at a restaurant or building your plate at a party, start with non-starchy veggies first, such as a garden salad or veggie appetizer or side. Even if these aren't the most appealing options, they'd help to fill you up first, making you less inclined to overdo it on the heavy, more indulgent options such as casseroles and desserts.

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