Health Topics

How to Eat Healthy During the Holidays and Still Indulge In Your Favorite Foods

Are You Thinking "It Can't Hurt" to Take a Holiday From Healthy Foods?

It's okay to indulge in rich foods and decadent desserts during the holidays, but keep the portions healthy - a little bit here, a little bit there. If you do overindulge, make sure you get in some extra exercise to burn off those extra calories. Taking small steps — using the stairs instead of the escalator, parking further away at the mall — adds up to big strides at the end of the day. Remember to eat healthy the rest of the time, choosing the following foods:

  • Whole grains
  • Low-fat or fat-free dairy
  • Lots of fruits and veggies
  • Lean meats

Helping yourself to "a little bit" of everything

If you are somewhere where there are many of your favorite holiday foods, select only your favorite hors d'oeuvres, desserts and other treats. Every calorie counts, so why "spend" extra calories on foods you don't truly enjoy?

And remember to monitor your alcohol consumption — not only does it add extra calories, it also lowers your inhibitions. That makes it even easier to overeat and choose foods you'd normally avoid!

Running Yourself Ragged to "Get it All Done"

Staying up night after night baking cookies, wrapping presents and addressing holiday cards does more than ratchet up your stress levels. Sleep actually alters the hormones in charge of appetite and feeling full, making you hungrier! Studies show that sleep-deprived people eat more, and those extra calories just don't get burned off during the extra hours they're awake. Do your best to get at least six hours of sleep every night, and you'll be less tempted to eat everywhere you go.

If you need help with weight management, consider a consultation with a registered dietitian or enrolling in a balanced weight management program. Maintaining a good weight will add healthy years to your life!

By Beth A. Czerwony MS, RD, LD, a licensed dietitian in Cleveland Clinic's Outpatient Nutrition Therapy Department