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Healthy Eating for the Holidays

Holiday gatherings mean good times with family and friends, but for many people with dietary concerns, these parties can play havoc with good eating intentions.

The wonderful foods associated with holiday meals can become a source of stress for some people on modified diets if they are trying to lose weight or watch their blood sugar or cholesterol levels.  Erin Paris, registered dietitian at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield, suggests developing a plan to avoid overeating during the season.

SOUND BITE:  “Don’t skip your meals before you go somewhere so you’re not starving when you arrive on the doormat.  And then try to talk about what you want to have with your spouse or if you have someone else going with you to have someone to kind of keep you accountable.  If you don’t want to have ten cookies, don’t ask your spouse not to bring the plate of cookies around ten times.”

Paris also advises people to think about appropriate portion sizes to not overeat at meals.  She offers these suggestions for healthy food choices.

SOUND BITE:  “Most of us know that the best food choices don’t involve the fried, creamy and sweet foods.  So I always encourage people to go for the simpler foods.  Eat what you like, but know that if you are going back for more than one plate of whatever, that you’re eating good or bad, it’s probably going to be too much food.  Go for the things that are simply dressed.  So if there’s a salad or fruit dish, obviously starting with those and if they have dressing on them, just watch the amount of dressing and oils.” 

Paris says there are no quick fixes to maintaining a diet during the holidays, but making healthy food choices can help you stay on track.  She also advises getting plenty of exercise and focus on enjoying the social activities.  If you have concerns about your food choices, see your primary care physician or a registered dietitian.

This is Ruth Slottag at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield.