Holidays Can Be Enjoyable Without the Extra Calories

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – For many people, holiday celebrations mean family, friends and food – plenty of sweet, rich, hearty, calorie-laden foods.

But, fear not – you can still enjoy all the season’s festivities without overdoing it on the buffet line by simply planning ahead, says Carolyn Gunther, an assistant professor of human sciences and a state specialist for Ohio State University Extension. OSU Extension is the outreach arm of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University.

One key to avoid overeating during the holidays is to make plans ahead of time about what you’ll have to eat at the party … and be mindful about the decisions you’re making once at the party, she said.

“Coming up with a game plan ahead of time about what you’ll have to eat and drink at the holiday party can help you avoid overindulging,” Gunther said. “Eating a light fiber-rich snack like fruits and veggies before the party is another good strategy.” 

Other tips to avoid holiday overeating include:

  • Drink a full glass of water before your meal. In addition to numerous health benefits, drinking water before a meal can help you feel fuller faster.
  • Chew your food. Slower eating and fully chewing your food will not only allow you to better savor the flavor of the delicious foods you are eating, it can help you consume fewer calories by being more satisfied with the foods you are consuming.
  • Drink less holiday nog. Alcohol is a hidden source of calories, so setting goals ahead of time before the party can help reduce consumption. Choose to have one or two drinks and pace them over the life of the party.
  • Don’t skip breakfast. It’s called the most important meal because it fuels your body and gives you energy to start the day.
  • Don’t forget to exercise. It’s a busy time of year so a routine can get thrown off, including healthy behaviors like physical activity. So plan in advance to make sure you continue to exercise over the holiday. 
  • De-stress. Stress levels can rise during the holiday season, leading many to overeat. So practicing mind-body techniques that can help manage and control and reduce stress is key. Meditation or yoga is a great strategy to manage stress during the holiday.

Lastly, remember the reason for your holiday celebrations, Gunther said.

“Holidays are about more than just indulgent foods,” she said. “There are a lot of other great things going on over the holidays, like spending time with your friends and loved ones and participating in fun holiday activities. In other words, focus on all the other many benefits other than food that come with the holiday season.”

For more information contact: 
Tracy Turner

Carolyn Gunther