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Tips for Healthy Holiday Eating

Silver Hill Hospital

Strategies to help you enjoy every aspect of the holidays, including the food.

You may be surprised that Silver Hill Hospital prepares holiday feasts for our patients and their families to enjoy. This is because we believe food is an integral part of every holiday celebration, and we want our families to enjoy the moment together.

Many holiday menus can be healthy but also high in calories. To help keep calories in check, we teach patients to pick and choose among the food options, selecting only those they really want. 

There is another benefit as well: We do not believe avoidance is an effective strategy for dealing with food issues. Our hope is that those patients who need to learn to effectively manage their eating behaviors will do so here, allowing for a more successful transition once they leave.

The holidays present food challenges for many of us. It’s difficult not to gain weight or feel guilty with such temptations around. Keeping busy will help manage any anxieties related to food. Here are some suggestions:

Help the hostess

An offer to greet, take coats or clean-up will not only be appreciated, it’s a good way to keep your mind away from the petit fours and egg nog.

Move away from the food table

Many of us take up station right next to the food table. This makes it easy to put all those culinary treats right into your mouth.  A more effective strategy is to stand somewhere else – try by the window decorations, the tree or menorah. It will give you something else to focus on.

Survey the offerings and select wisely

Don’t like cranberries? Think potatoes and stuffing are too much starch? Then don’t take them. Survey the buffet or table before eating. Take only small portions of those things you think are worth the calories. 

Drink something besides alcohol

This is especially true if you are a recovering alcoholic, but good advice for everyone. When we drink too much, things happen we regret. Not to mention alcohol packs on the calories. Try a fruit spritzer, cranberry or orange juice, or diet soda with lemon or lime. No one will have any idea what’s in your glass and you will be able to enjoy the evening without an embarrassing incident. Coffee, tea, low calorie hot chocolate and warm apple cider work well too. 

Pre-arrange for a buddy

Identify an ally going to the event who you can stand next to and talk with. Not only will this make the party more fun, you can help each other make wise choices with food and alcohol as well.

Keep moving

Yes, it gets dark early and with so much else to do, who has the time or inclination to go to the gym?  But even if you can’t fit in a full workout you can park away from the mall, use the steps or push a stroller. Physical exercise keeps your endorphins pumping too, which will also makes you less inclined to eat.

It only takes 500 extra calories a day for seven days to put on a pound. If you are eating more, exercise will help you keep it off.

Most importantly, have a practical goal. Try not to gain or lose weight. Simply maintain. In moments of weakness, it’s always hard to manage and holiday temptations do abound. Be realistic and you won’t be disappointed. With a little planning, we can all fully participate in and enjoy this food-centered time of year.