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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. Sara Lopinski, registered dietitian at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield, suggests developing a strategy to avoid overeating during the season.

“I think mental preparation is key this time of year. I always find it is especially helpful if I think about how I want to feel on January 2nd.  Since this is certainly a several-week time-frame where we can get into trouble. So I think you have to mentally prepare yourself and decide what is going to work for you to hold the line on overeating.”

Lopinski advises people to choose healthy foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, and to avoid sauces, gravies and calorie-loaded drinks. She also suggests practicing portion control as a way to help prevent overeating. 

“Don’t waste calories on foods that you don’t really like. Save up for foods that you really want to eat at this time of year and watch the portion size. Certainly foods with lots of bulk such as vegetables will fill you up without too many calories.”

Lopinski 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 dietary concerns, you should see your primary care physician or a registered dietitian.

Ruth Slottag