Stay Healthy Through the Holidays

Northwestern Medicine
Health and Wellness November 20, 2012
Thanksgiving Holiday FeastThanksgiving marks the beginning of the holiday season and a celebratory time full of temptations and demands due to family gatherings, parties, shopping and entertaining. Unhealthy habits can be inevitable this time of year, but as the festivities start on Thursday, Northwestern Medicine experts say there are simple strategies to help you stay on track to enjoy the season without excessive weight gain.

Hannah El-Amin, RD, a registered dietitian at Northwestern Integrative Medicine, notes that between busy schedules and a plethora of snacks and treats, it’s difficult to stay motivated. She says that it is possible to indulge a little without gaining a lot.

El-Amin suggests five main ways to maintain a healthy body during the festive season:

Plan ahead by eating a healthy snack before attending holiday parties. A large apple, vegetables with hummus and reduced fat flavored yogurt will all take the edge off the hunger before you arrive, and therefore help with portion control.

Don’t miss a meal during the day. According to El-Amin, a common misconception is that skipping meals will save room for large amounts of food later. Instead, this sets your hunger into overdrive and by the time you eat, excess hunger will cause you to overeat.

Control your portions by eating until you’re satisfied, not stuffed. Take time to pause during the meal to check your level of fullness and choose smaller portions from a variety of foods to still enjoy your favorite treats while eating less.

Swap this for that when offering to make a dish for the gathering. Use fresh, healthy ingredients or make substitutions for lower fat or sugar.

Keep moving and don’t park in front of the buffet at a party. Add fitness into your holiday celebration with exercise that is fun for the whole family; take a walk after a large meal or play a friendly game of flag football.

“The key to enjoying a healthy holiday season is moderation,” said El-Amin. “Allow yourself to enjoy a little while still striving to make nutritious choices.”

Read the full story for more tips on how to enjoy a healthy holiday season.

What are some of the ways you stay healthy through the holidays? 
Check out these NM Care Areas: