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6 Tips on How to Cut Calories this Holiday Season

The holiday season: a time of changing weather, family festivities and making memories, as well as the gathering of an abundance of comfort food and treats. While traditional holiday fare is tasty, it is often high in fat, calories and sugar.  Holidays put us in a tricky position— we want to participate in shared activities but also want to fuel our bodies properly when engaging in these traditions. While it is important to spend special occasions with loved ones, overindulging on Halloween candy or Thanksgiving pie can be avoided.

Follow these Tips to Cut Calories This Holiday Season

In an attempt to combat negative consequences, here are 6 quick tips for reducing the temptation to binge on holiday cuisine:

  • Avoid ‘saving room’ in advance. Fasting before an anticipated meal will likely lead to greater hunger and consumption of large portions at the holiday meal itself.  Be sure to choose fiber- and protein-filled meals leading up to special holiday gatherings.
  • Enjoy what you eat. Dish up whatever you are genuinely curious about tasting and have decided is worthy of your taste buds, regardless of their calorie content. Do not tell yourself you cannot have something because it’s too high in calories, fat, etc.—these strict boundaries will only make you want it more!
  • Choose nutrient-dense foods first.  Start with trying the vegetables, lean meats (like turkey) and whole grains in an effort to fill the stomach with fibers, vitamins, minerals and protein. Then, move on to the starchy pastas, potato casseroles and brownies, as desired. In this way, theoretically, fewer calories will be consumed.
  • Stop and think. Consider, “Is this something I will regret if I do not try it, or am I just eating it because it’s present?” Asking questions like this allow you to better savor chosen foods and may prevent overeating.
  • Remember that there will always be another opportunity.  It is easy to eat a treat when you think you will never get to try it again. However, you likely will have another opportunity to eat pumpkin pie, Halloween candy or candy canes. As a matter of fact, similar shared leftovers may be available at work when you return.
  • Move more prior to the holiday meal. Something as simple as a walk outside or body-weight exercises at home will boost your energy and potentially release endorphins for that ‘feel good’ sensation prior to celebration.

Put Your Health First

Let’s be honest, the holidays are stressful.  Family dynamics are hard, traveling is time-consuming, finances can be tight, and dark winter days may keep you down. Don’t allow your nutrition to also be a factor contributing to stress.

In summary: savor your food by eating slowly and choosing carefully, do not create too strict of boundaries, savor time with loved ones and take advantage of extra energy provided by nutrients and movement!

Have a healthy and happy holiday season!

Originally Published: November 2018. Revised: August 2022.

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