A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

Moderate as you celebrate: 3 tips to avoid holiday overeating

Person holding their plate up to be served turkey at a holiday dinner - Holidays: Eating with moderation

Balance your plate to get a variety of healthy foods.

The holidays are a time when we celebrate and feast with those close to us, but your waistline doesn’t have to pay the price for holiday cheer. Eating with moderation will help you survive this season of excess.

“Many nutrition textbooks define eating with moderation as avoiding excessive amounts of calories or any particular food or nutrient,” said Stacy Getten, a registered dietitian at Marshfield Clinic.

Obstacles to moderation

Getten noted several challenges people face when trying to eat with moderation or control weight:

  • Meal portion sizes have increased over time.
  • People are becoming less physically active.
  • Busy lives mean people eat foods that are fast and easy to prepare.

During the holidays, people are busier than ever, and holiday treats are everywhere, so eating with moderation can be particularly difficult. Getten offered several solutions to help navigate the holiday calorie hike.

Don’t party hungry

It might seem like a good idea to avoid eating all day, saving your calories for a holiday party, but this is a mistake, Getten said. If you’re full when you get to the party, you’re less likely to overindulge in high calorie treats.

Divide your plate and include variety

When you sit down to a meal, look at your plate as having sections. Half of the plate should be non-starchy vegetables, a quarter of the plate should consist of starchy vegetables or whole grains, and the remainder should be lean protein. A serving of dairy or fruit can complement the meal.

Variety helps you avoid excessive calories you might consume if you eat only a single food, like a few slices of pizza or a big plate of spaghetti, Getten said.

Be mindful when eating

It’s important to be conscious of what you’re eating, which is why Getten discourages her patients from eating in front of the television.

“When you start eating at the table instead of in front of the TV, a lot of times you eat less because you aren’t distracted,” Getten said. “When you’re focused on eating, you pay more attention to what you’re eating.”

It’s not just about weight loss

As you incorporate moderation, you may see initial weight loss and then hit a point where your weight doesn’t budge. That doesn’t mean you’ve stopped making progress. It might mean you’re adding muscle as you drop fat. Getten suggests measuring your waistline or arms to see if you are losing inches even when the scale says you haven’t lost weight.

Related Shine365 holiday posts:

Test your holiday food smarts (quiz)

3 tips for healthful holiday potluck ideas (recipe)

9 tips to avoid holiday weight gain

Better cheese choices for your holiday party

9 tips for heart-healthy holiday cooking

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