For Healthy Holidays, Take it from the Pros


For Healthy Holidays, Take it from the Pros

Nutrition Nutritionists are human too. From Thanksgiving to New Year’s, they face winter holiday treats and food traditions just like the rest of us. So how do they balance heart-healthy eating and exercise against the high-fat, high-calorie temptations of the season? Registered dieticians from the Feinberg School of Medicine’s Department of Preventive Medicine share a few of their personal holiday survival tips.

“My family prepares a meal for the celebration, rather than make food to last for days,” shares Kim Thedford, RD. “On Thanksgiving, for example, we’ll cook a casserole that is just the right size to eat for that day, and it will be gone by the next.”

Alcohol not only dehydrates the body but also can weaken the strongest willpower when it comes to overindulging. Kate Panzer, RD, becomes a “double-fister” at holiday gatherings. “If I have an alcoholic beverage in one hand,” she explains, “I’ll hold a glass of water in the other.” Besides the filling effect of water, drinking it as you socialize will help slow down the rate of mindless nibbling.

Appetizers and other goodies look mighty, well, appetizing, especially on an empty stomach. “I never go to a party or dinner starving because like many people, I will likely over do it,” exclaims Eileen Vincent, RD. “Since parties often start later than when I normally would eat, I have a healthy snack, like fruit, before I go to take the edge off.”

Registered dietician Niki Gernhofer loves her “cake,” and she’ll eat it, too, by planning well ahead. “If I know I will be attending a dinner party where there will be dessert, I may eat more salads and increase my normal exercise routine the week before the event,” says Gernhofer, who enjoys a good cup of coffee and a sweet conclusion to her meal.

Burning off excess calories before, during, and after the holidays helps keep the pounds away. During this time-crunched period, the nutrition experts recommend upping the ante on activities of daily living. If shopping for holiday gifts, park your car a fair distance from your destination. Take a few extra laps around the mall. Opt for the stairs rather than the elevator at work. “At parties, don’t stay at the food table,” advises Vincent. “The more you move, the better off you are.”

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