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Healthy Eating Tips During the Holidays

By Ruchi Shah, MS, RD, CDN

The holidays are coming, and with them come delicious cookies, large plates filled with food, overindulging, and the inability to say “no” to a second or third helping. The average American gains a couple of pounds during the holidays, and this weight gain leads to New Years’ resolutions to go to the gym more often. Here are some tips for staying on track during the holidays:

  • Don’t skip meals during the day to save calories for a bigger meal later on. When you do this, you end up over-eating to compensate for what you missed out on during the day.
  • Be sure to incorporate foods that are high in fiber such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. This will help keep you full, and high fiber foods are lower in calories.
  • Choose a smaller plate rather than a larger one. This is an easy way to prevent you from over-eating.
  • Fill half your plate with non-starchy vegetable based dishes. Starchy vegetables are peas, corn, potatoes, and sweet potatoes. If you take a second helping, again try to take non-starchy vegetables.
  • When it comes to dessert, use a smaller plate. If you want to try everything, take small portions of each. Moderation is key.
  • If you are going to a family or friend potluck gathering, bring a healthy, low calorie option.
  • Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day, and limit the amount of sugar sweetened beverages (such as hot chocolate, warm apple cider, etc.) to once a day.
  • Wherever you are, walk up and down the stairs instead of riding in the elevator.
  • Get the family to go on a walk after the meal, or participate in some sort of physical activity such as a family football game. Stay active!
  • Try everything that you want to try, but be aware of portion size. Again, moderation is key.

Never feel guilty about the foods that you consume during the holiday season. This is the time of year to enjoy with your loved ones. The key is to consume the foods you want, but in moderation. Focus most meals on the healthy parts. These tips will allow you to indulge in a way that also keeps you on the track of healthy eating during the holidays!

Ruchi Shah is a Registered Dietitian and Diabetes Educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County’s Family Health and Wellness Program. She can be reached at


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