Home > Cooper Updates > Dietitian Approved: How to Enjoy Your Holiday Meal

Dietitian Approved: How to Enjoy Your Holiday Meal

It’s that time of year. Pies. Cookies. Desserts. How do you navigate the holiday season when it comes to food? Do you opt for healthier, low-calorie foods? Maybe you allow yourself to indulge for just one day?

You might be surprised to learn our Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services team does both! They share their tips for enjoying the holiday season without any guilt.

Kathy Duran-Thal RDN, LD: I wear my fitness tracker during the holidays with a goal of hitting 10,000 steps each day (that does not include dedicated exercise time). I also implement the rule, “if I don’t love it, I don’t eat it.” Thankfully, I really do enjoy and love roasted vegetables and fruit!

Cynthanne Duryea, RDN, LD: I do not allow the hustle and bustle of the holiday season to interfere with my beloved exercise regimen. I need exercise more than ever during the holidays as a stress reliever! I also adhere to the saying, “keep it a holi-DAY, not a holi-week or a holi-month.” In other words, I allow myself to eat whatever I choose on the actual holiday and don’t modify my favorite holiday recipes to be “low-calorie” or “low-fat.” I prefer to enjoy the real indulgent favorite holiday foods without any alterations! That being said, once the holi-DAY is over, I go back to my healthy eating habits. It’s all about moderation!

Gillian Gatewood, RDN, LD, CNSC: I find the holiday season is a great opportunity to reinforce mindfulness. I’m a notorious speed eater which certainly doesn’t help me truly enjoy my favorite holiday foods. What’s the point in indulgence if we don’t slow down and enjoy it? I make a point to actively slow down with food, setting my utensils down and sipping a non-caloric beverage between bites, savoring every delicious morsel. I alsoBlog-Final take advantage of quality time with loved ones, steering conversation away from the decadent holiday spread so I can be more vested in this precious time and season with friends and family. I stay active by signing up for holiday themed runs or walks with friends and family. These events are not only festive, fun and healthy, but are another great way to bring everyone together during the holidays.

Patty Kirk, RDN, LD: Thanksgiving is a day I give myself a little forgiveness. First of all, I always start with breakfast. This helps me control nibbling all day and then gobbling down Thanksgiving dinner as fast as I can. I give myself grace when I have my Thanksgiving meal and allow myself to enjoy my favorite foods. No food is off limits, but I do try to see the bottom of the plate, avoid seconds, eat slowly and remember to feel satisfied, not stuffed. Remember, Thanksgiving is just one day, not an entire week. Try to avoid high-calorie left overs with the exception of turkey and unadorned vegetables. Keep active and enjoy the day!

Lizzy McCrary, RDN, LD: It really helps me to stay active throughout the weeks coming up to the holidays and on the actual holiday. I’m also a big believer in revamping your food environment. That means avoid lingering around the food if it’s too tempting to take extra bites and nibbles. They add up! Once you’ve enjoyed your meal, stay out of the kitchen and away from the buffet table. Out of sight, out of mind! Pick your favorite dessert, not multiple, and split it with a family member. Opt for zero-calorie drinks to keep calories in check and to make room for the other rich foods you’d like to indulge in. Lastly, load up on vegetables. If there’s anything you want seconds of, go for the (unadorned) vegetables! Most importantly, enjoy the day without guilt, knowing this is a single day out of the year and not something meant to go on for days, weeks or months.

Elana Paddock, RDN, LD, CDE: I try to plan ahead for special occasions and pick and choose my favorites. I assess and ask myself, “is it worth it?” and “do I love it?” Just because the food is in front of me doesn’t automatically mean I dive in. Admittedly, there are so many options at a holiday meal and I personally would rather have a slice of pecan pie and skip the stuffing and roll. That’s my trade off! Bottom line—I can still enjoy my favorites without feeling deprived!

Katherine Tom, MS, RDN, LD, CDE: Thanksgiving usually revolves around more movement at my house, i.e. Turkey trots, flag football games and bocce ball tournaments. Staying active while having fun is a great way to keep calories in check!

Meridan Zerner, MS, RDN, CSSD, LD: I often try to do a little “extra” heading into the holidays in terms of exercise so that I have more wiggle room for family, food and fun. Holiday foods, especially sweets, are a challenge for me so not only do I make lighter versions of my favorite pumpkin bread or fudge (there are some amazing substitutions available in cooking), but I cut them into small pieces and put them in the freezer pretty quickly. I would rather eat my indulgences than drink them, so I am mindful to watch liquid calories such as juice, soda, eggnog or cocktails!

To schedule a one-on-one consultation or for more information on Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services, visit cooperclinicnutrition.com or call 972.560.2655.

Categories: Cooper Updates
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