Kent State Dietitian Offers Tips for Staying on Track With Nutrition Goals This Holiday Season
The average person gains six to 10 pounds over the holiday season, says Tanya Falcone, registered dietitian and nutritional outreach coordinator at Kent State University. This can lead to significant weight gain over the years that does not shed, even after the New Year.
Ms. Falcone says that with so many delicious and tempting foods, it can be hard to stay healthy during the holidays. She says that over the course of one holiday celebration, the average person consumes more than 5,000 calories and 10,000 mg of sodium, more than four times the recommended daily intake, over the course of one celebration day.
“People tend to think that they should skip breakfast and lunch since they will be eating more later that day,” Ms. Falcone says. “This actually can make you more prone to binge and overindulge in sugary treats later in the day.”
Focusing on smaller portions allows you to taste all the different foods you want, while keeping it in moderation, Ms. Falcone says.
“Fix yourself one plate with what you want on it without overflowing it,” she says. “If you want to taste three different kinds of pie, that’s fine! Just cut your slices down.”
Ms. Falcone recommends you wait 20 minutes before going back for seconds, this allows your stomach to send signals to your brain, causing you to feel full. If you still want seconds after those 20 minutes, have another portion, she says.
“If you still want more, go back up and pick just one or two items that you really want,” Ms. Falcone says.
Abby Saponaro, director of nutrition services at Be Well Solutions and dietitian, says it is important to listen to your body and practice balance not only through the holidays, but throughout the entire year.
“Enjoy these delights, but be sure to get back on track for the rest of the week and month,” Ms. Saponaro says. “Stop eating when you’re 75 percent full or no longer hungry.”
Ms. Saponaro suggests taking a brisk walk after big meals or creating an active holiday tradition, such as a family hike or Thanksgiving 5K.
“My best advice is to drink plenty of water and exercise regularly,” Ms. Saponaro says. “Never dismiss the importance of regular, consistent exercise to help burn more calories.”
Ms. Falcone says one of the biggest contributors to the excess calorie intake is liquids. With all the delicious eggnog, hot chocolate and alcoholic beverages, the liquid calories can quickly add up.
“Be cautious on the liquid calories,” Ms. Falcone says. “If you really can’t resist them, pick one single drink and keep it to one 8-ounce glass.”
Kent State’s Center of Nutrition Outreach offers free, professional counseling to Kent State students and employees. For more information about the center, visit www.kent.edu/ehhs/hs/nutr/center-nutrition-outreach.
For more information on how to stay healthy this holiday season, visit https://healthyforgood.heart.org/eat-smart/articles/holidays-healthy-eating-guide.