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By Jean Hanks, MS, RDN, CDN

The holiday season is upon us, and in addition to all the normal stressors that come with this time of year, we also have a global pandemic to think about. But no matter what your holiday festivities look like this year, one thing that is likely to be unchanged is the anxiety and dread some people feel regarding holiday eating. Here are a few healthy eating tips to keep in mind this holiday season:

  1. Fill up on protein + fiber
    When I talk about satiety with clients, I always recommend focusing on protein and fiber. The protein and fiber in foods fills us up, and keeps us satisfied longer than, say, refined carbohydrates. At your holiday dinner, load your plate up with fiber-rich vegetables and
    protein – chicken, fish, turkey, tofu – whatever protein dish is on the table.
  2. Be mindful of grazing
    Food is often in your face constantly around the holidays, and it can be tempting to mindlessly graze on snack foods at gatherings. Practicing some mindfulness while snacking can be beneficial here. Fill a separate bowl or plate with food, as opposed to eating straight from the container. Try to eat free of distractions as much as possible–this will put you in better touch with your hunger and satiety cues.
  3. Make sure to hydrate
    Holiday food is often accompanied by a holiday cocktail – and that’s perfectly fine! Indulge in your favorite festive drinks, but keep your water glass close by. It’s easy to forget about staying hydrated when we’re consuming other beverages, but drinking water is even more important when alcohol is involved. Plus, drinking water throughout the day will be beneficial for digesting those larger meals.
  4. Don’t fast before a big meal
    How many times have you skimped on food all day knowing that a heavy night of eating was in your future? It may seem like a smart idea to “save” all of your calories and skip breakfast or lunch before a big feast, but as a result you’ll likely overeat to compensate for your hunger-induced fast.
  5. Enjoy…and move on!
    It’s important to remember that, in the grand scheme of things, one day (or a few days) of eating does not define your health, nor will it “undo” any positive changes you’ve made in your eating habits. Holiday food is delicious, and meant to be enjoyed! The key is try
    to remove guilt from the equation, enjoy that second slice of pie, and move on.