Holiday Feast Survival Guide

Practice moderation over the holidays. Don't deny yourself that favorite cookie, just don't eat the whole plate!
You cast your eye on the table. Mmm... one after another, great heaping dishes of food. Comfort food. Holiday food. You dig in, savoring every bite.


Now the meal is over and you are going through that terrible cycle of holiday remorse. Sure, it's great to be able to indulge in some festive food favorites, but there is always that guilt afterward.

Andrea Dmitruk, a registered dietitian at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/The Allen Pavilion, says you can avoid this psychological turmoil by adopting a more sensible approach to holiday eating and exercise. "You will not gain weight from one meal by itself. Consistency is the key; if you eat healthful meals during the months before the holidays, a splurge or two can be fit in."

Jen Nelson, a registered dietitian at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, suggests, "Don't deny yourself the occasional treat. What people need to realize is that everyone can eat something of everything -- it's just a question of how much."


Holiday Healthful Hints

They offer the following holiday feast survival guide; a road map of sorts to keep you and your diet from straying too far this year.

  • Plan ahead. Remember the "calorie bank" concept. Save calories from a few days before to give yourself more calories to eat during the holidays.
  • Never go to a party hungry. Snack on fruit, non-fat yogurt, and a glass of skim milk or raw vegetables before you leave for the party. You will be less tempted to overindulge while you're there.
  • Take control of your environment whenever possible. Never engage in conversation while sitting next to a platter of your favorite cookies. Try to remember not to indulge while you are chatting.
  • Bring a low-fat dish to the party. Share with other guests.
  • Fill your plate with vegetables and lean protein foods--then add small "tastes" of high-fat dishes.
  • Eat slowly and savor every bite. It takes 20 minutes for the stomach to signal to your brain that you are full.
  • Decide in advance how you will handle gifts of cookies and candy. Don't leave them out in the open so that you will be tempted to binge. Keep one or two and give the rest away.
  • Limit alcohol consumption. Not only does alcohol contain many calories, but it can also stimulate your appetite and reduce your willpower. Try a wine spritzer, or, better yet, avoid alcohol completely and drink seltzer or mineral water with a twist of lime, or a non-alcoholic tomato juice cocktail.
  • Don't allow holiday activity to slow down your exercise program. Exercise can help burn off extra calories and make you feel good about yourself. Remember to keep to your usual routine of exercise; it will probably not take more than one-half hour out of your day.
  • Moderation is the key to weight maintenance. A forkful of cheesecake will do less damage than a whole piece. Remember, an occasional indulgence will not destroy your weight-loss attempts.
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