Healthy Holiday Eating

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The holidays are almost here! That means parties, hot chocolate, hors-d’oeuvres, cocktails, sweets, eating on the go, and stress eating. The average person gains two pounds or less during the holidays, but studies have found that the weight remains until the next holiday. Here are some tips to keep weight gain from snowballing.

  • Plan. Start each week by planning dinners, stocking healthy snacks and scheduling your workouts. This is not the time of year to try new and complicated recipes. Familiar recipes will take less time and reduce stress.
  • Eat before leaving for the party. Eat something small before facing party food and drinks to avoid arriving with an empty stomach and making bad choices. Eat some fruit, vegetables, a handful of nuts or some Greek yogurt before heading out the door.
  • Step away from the buffet. Most holiday get-togethers include a buffet or hors-d’oeuvres table. Fill a plate with one layer of food, then walk away from the table. Focus on fresh salads, raw vegetables and lean proteins like shrimp, turkey, and ham. Avoid high-calorie breads, pasta and cheese-laden items.
  • Eat slowly. The slower someone eats, the less they’ll eat. It takes the brain 15 minutes to register when the stomach is full. A slow eater will eat less food, which means fewer calories.
  • Drink (water, that is). Drink plenty of water throughout the day, especially during a feast or while drinking alcohol (alternate a glass of water with each alcoholic drink). Water maintains hydration, which increases energy and reduces overeating.
  • Make treats small. It’s OK to have fun during the holidays! Choose one small dessert. Be selective and savor it.
  •  Sneak in more veggies. Add more vegetables into each course. Making mashed potatoes? Make them half potatoes and half cauliflower. Add steamed, pureed vegetables into almost any dish. Add pureed butternut squash to macaroni and cheese—it will increase the nutritional value,
    decrease the calories per serving and no one will know the difference!

630 Naperville Guest

Toni Havala, MS, RD, LDN is a registered dietitian at Edward-Elmhurst Health.

About Edward-Elmhurst Health

Edward Hospital and Linden Oaks Behavioral Health are part of NorthShore – Edward-Elmhurst Health, a fully integrated healthcare delivery system committed to providing access to quality, vibrant, community-connected care, serving an area of more than 4.2 million residents across six northeast Illinois counties. Our more than 25,000 team members and more than 6,000 physicians aim to deliver transformative patient experiences and expert care close to home across more than 300 ambulatory locations and eight acute care hospitals – Edward (Naperville), Elmhurst, Evanston, Glenbrook (Glenview), Highland Park, Northwest Community (Arlington Heights) Skokie and Swedish (Chicago) – all recognized as Magnet hospitals for nursing excellence. Located in Naperville, Linden Oaks Behavioral Health provides for the mental health needs of area residents. For more information, visit and

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