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Battle of the holiday bulge

Experts in the Department of Nutrition offer tips to keep you from gaining a Santa Claus-like waistline this holiday season.

By Dan Vaccaro

December 7, 2016

Reprinted from December 10, 2015

The holidays are here, and that means plenty of time with family, friends, and of course, food. But how can you enjoy some well-deserved time off without packing on the unwanted pounds? As the holiday party season swings into full frenzy, here are seven easy nutrition tips that will keep you from looking like Santa Claus this holiday season, courtesy of the experts in Metropolitan State University of Denver’s Department of Nutrition:

1. Check your list twice

“Plan ahead for the busy holiday season by buying ingredients for easy-to-prepare, healthy “go-to” meals or snacks,” Associate Professor Cynthia Dormer, Ph.D., RDN advises. “Make a simple stir-fry or stew with frozen, canned or fresh ingredients.” And if you must snack, “Try hummus and crunchy vegetables or thin slices of cheese and apple.” And stay away from the eggnog!

2. Santa’s helpers

Dormer suggests you, “Decide on your personal holiday food ‘guidelines’ and share them with one supportive friend. Include things like limiting yourself to one glass of wine and one serving of dessert per day.” Those extra helpings can add up quickly.

3. Gum, they told me, pa ra pa pa pum

Professor Jennifer Weddig, Ph.D., RD, CLC, recommends this simple technique for being more mindful of what you eat: “Chew gum during parties or meetings where holiday food is available. This will keep you from eating mindlessly. Choose your food and put it on a plate. Discard your gum, eat the food mindfully and enjoy!”

4. It’s the most wonderful time

Yes, it can be, and Weddig says to make sure you spend some time on yourself no matter how busy you get: “Make an appointment with yourself for daily exercise. Keep the appointment as you would keep one with your boss or best friend. Cancel something else (anything else) before giving up your exercise session.”

5. Pre-party hardy

Lecturer April Rhymaun, MS, RDN, advises eating something healthy before any event: “If you show up to a meal or party hungry, you’re more likely to indulge. Eat a small snack containing protein or a healthy fat, such as a handful of nuts, before you head out.”

6. These are a few of my favorite things

Live a little. “Know your favorite foods,” Rhymaun says. “Treat yourself to a few of the goodies and dishes you can’t live without and leave the rest behind.”

7. Give yourself a break

And don’t give up, advises Rhymaun: “During the holidays it’s very easy to fall into the all or nothing trap. If you have one party where you overindulge, don’t give up on your goals of staying healthy. Forgive yourself and refocus on the next day.”

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