Eating healthy for the holidays

By: Tiffany Wong - Marshall University Dietetic Intern

With Christmas and the New Year coming in less than a month, here comes our struggle between being conscious about what we eat and giving ourselves a break, just overindulge ourselves and enjoy the holidays. Although the common saying tells that an average American gains five pounds over the holiday break, study had found that the actual average holiday weight gain is only a pound (Yanovski, et. Al., 2015). Gaining one pound may not sound like a lot; however, researches had also shown that people tend to stick with that weight gain, and the number just keep accumulating over the years. Therefore, it is important to maintain healthy eating habits during your family feast. For sure, we still want to enjoy our Christmas and New Year meal. We are not saying that only salad and fruits should be served at Christmas dinner, but we just want to share some helpful tips that stay us away from overeating during the holidays.

Many people may think that since they are having a big meal at night, it is better for them to not eat in the day, so that they can save their quota to eat at dinner. But the fact is that, when people starve themselves for too long, they are more likely to lose control of the amount they eat. People that skip meals tend to overeat as they overcompensate themselves for not eating at the previous meal. Therefore, be sure to eat properly throughout the day, incorporate some small snacks in between meals. The feeling of hunger is a signal that tells you to eat, you don’t necessarily have to wait until dinner if you feel hungry already in the afternoon.

Also, while we have so many different foods to choose from our wonderfully big, buffet style holiday meals, people tend to fill up their enormous plates with a bit of everything. But soon enough, they will find themselves full but will still force themselves to finish what they have on the plates because they do not want to waste anything. To deal with that, try to use

smaller plates at home. If you still want some more of the food after your first plate, feel free to go for the second or the third plate. Using smaller plate just helps you with controlling portion size and be aware of the amount you eat.

More than that, try to fill the plate up with veggies before you start on entrees and desserts. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a large proportion of American do not eat enough fruits and vegetables. This problem is especially apparent in the tri-states area, where people on average consume fruits and vegetables less than 1.5 times a day. The MyPlate campaign by the United States Department of Agriculture suggests making half of our plates fruits and vegetables to ensure we are consuming enough of them. Therefore, get your veggies in before you get distracted by the amazingly delicious turkey and Christmas pudding. The fiber-rich vegetables can also help to take up some space in your stomach, and makes you feel more satisfied with less calories.

Last but not least, be mindful about what we eat and how much we eat. Pay attention to what our body tells us, and let our intuition decide whether to eat more or to stop. People generally eat more at holiday meals because people around them are still eating. They continue to eat not because they enjoy the food or they are still hungry, but they are lead to eat by the atmosphere. Food should be enjoyable, don’t be stressed to eat because of any reasons. Stop to eat when your body tells you that it is comfortably full. It may take some time for our body to realize we have had enough food and do not need to eat anymore. Therefore, remember to eat slower and chew your food well enough before you start on your second plate!

By: Tiffany Wong

Marshall University Dietetic Intern