While the holidays are fun and exciting for many, for others it can be challenging as they try to avoid overeating at office parties and family gatherings.
"Maintaining a healthy, balanced diet can be difficult when you are surrounded by snack foods and large meals," says Dennis Sehgal, MD, MBA, family medicine physician. "Some find family gatherings stressful as well, and it's common for them to turn to eating as comfort during that stress."
Dr. Sehgal offers these tips to help you eat and feel your best during the holidays.
Look to see what foods are available first and choose those that you really want.
Bring your own healthy snack option to a party, such as salsa with vegetables, light dip and whole-grain crackers, or a large salad to share.
Remember to exercise. A bit of physical activity can help reduce stress and burn up some calories.
Think of all those appetizers as a meal; all of those little bites can quickly add up to 600 calories!
To resist eating throughout the day when appetizers and snacks are readily available, serve yourself a plate of food at one point in the gathering. Focus on your food at that time and then resist grazing after the meal.
Give your body 20 to 30 minutes after eating to refill your plate. This is about how long it takes the stomach to secrete hormones that tell the brain you're full.
Keep portions in check by using smaller bowls and plates.
Place healthy options, like a mixed fruit bowl or veggies and light dip, close by.
Don't drink your calories in the form of heavy beer, sugar-sweetened beverages or sugary cocktails. Try light beer or mixed drinks with no-calorie or no-sugar mixers.
If you have diabetes, be aware of the sugar content of the food you are eating.
If you have congestive heart failure, be aware that a lot of holiday foods can have a high salt content.