Enjoying the Holidays While Keeping Your Health in Check

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It’s a very common refrain around January: “I overdid it during the holidays and now I need to lose XX pounds!”

Although nearly all of us will indulge more than usual during the holidays, here is a practical tip to rein it in.  And, best of all, it doesn’t involve total deprivation!

The main idea is to eat foods in order of low-calorie/high nutrient density to high-calorie/low nutrient density.

Seems pretty simple and intuitive, right?  Here’s how it might look in practice:

At a friend’s holiday party, you may be greeted with a table full of goodies: Beer, wine, sweets, meats, cheeses, fruits, veggies, chips, dip, you name it.  So, you might want to start with the fruits and veggies.  It’s a good idea to load up at this stage – knowing that the fiber will keep you fuller for a longer period of time, as well as stabilize your blood sugar, which will give you more sustained energy for the rest of the party.  Once you feel somewhat full from the fruits and veggies, then move onto something else a little higher in calories – say, cheese or meats (depending on your dietary preferences), or dips and other appetizers.  Gradually work your way up to the desserts and other big-ticket items (in terms of calories).  The idea is that at that point, you may not have as much room to overindulge on the higher-calorie items, because you’ve already loaded up on lower-cal/higher nutrient density foods.  That way, a little bit will go a longer way in satisfying your holiday cravings.  Meanwhile, you still made sure that you prioritized nutrients into your party intake – win/win!

The same ideas apply to beverages – consider alternating each alcoholic/coffee drink with a glass of water.  Not only will this practice keep you hydrated, but it will help you pace your intake, so you’ll eat/drink based more on how hungry you are rather than eating mindlessly.

Do you have any other thoughts on enjoying the food-centered holiday experience while still keeping yourself healthy?  Please share with our community!