Enjoy the Holidays Without Ruining Your Diet

By: Madison Brunner

The holiday season is filled with family and food, but can also be stressful for many people who are concerned about overconsumption. Americans typically gain up to 2 pounds over the holiday season, and this weight gain can increase if they aren’t cautious about caloric intake.

We asked Elizabeth Dubovi, clinical nutrition coordinator at Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC, for some tips on staying on track with this holiday season.

How should someone get their diet back on track after Thanksgiving?

A. To get back on track after Thanksgiving, I recommend eating like it’s any regular day. Don’t restrict your food intake the following day just because you overindulged – this could easily lead to overeating once again. Additionally, drink plenty of water to help with digestion, and restart your typical exercise routine to burn extra calories you may have consumed. Remember, the holidays only come around once every year, and it’s normal to get off track from a healthy eating plan. With a positive attitude and desire to get back on track, you will recover from your Thanksgiving feast.

Enjoy the Holidays Without Ruining Your DietWhat are some suggestions for controlled eating this holiday season?

A. Be mindful. Mindful eating includes awareness of the entire process of consuming food. First, smell your food and, during the meal, chew slowly and take time to absorb the many flavors. By taking time to eat, you are preventing overeating. Portion control is also important to exercise. Using smaller plates can help to reduce the amount you eat. It’s helpful to start your meal with a salad and vegetables – the fiber will help fill you up and prevent overindulgence of the more high-calorie foods, like entrees and dessert. Always wait at least 10 minutes before going back for second helpings, as it can take 10 to 15 minutes for your stomach to realize it is full. Finally, enjoy dessert! If portion control was managed during the first course, enjoying dessert in moderation is not a problem.

Can you name a few tips to avoid overconsumption during the holiday?

A. On Thanksgiving Day, don’t drink your calories. While it is traditional to drink alcoholic beverages on the holiday, being mindful of the empty calories they contain is important. I recommend eliminating alcoholic beverages completely, however, limiting your consumption to one to two beverages can help to significantly reduce the calories you consume. Additionally, don’t sit near dessert trays – this often leads to mindless consumption of sugary, high calorie foods. Over the days following Thanksgiving, be smart with your leftovers and don’t feel you need to eat everything at once. Eating traditional Thanksgiving dishes over several meals or days can also be enjoyable. Try eating turkey, stuffing and a salad for lunch and choose turkey, sweet potatoes and green beans at dinner.