Dear Dietitian: Holiday Season

Leanne McCrate

Dear Readers,

The holiday season is upon us, times of glad tidings, holiday parties, and family gatherings. When we gather to celebrate, there is often food available that we don’t normally eat. It’s great food, and why not partake, it's the holidays. We're supposed to eat more.

If you are one of the lucky ones who can eat through the holidays, not gain a pound, and then get back into your healthy routine come January 2, my hat is off to you. For some of us, it's just not that easy. One (cookie, or fill in the blank) is too many, and a thousand is never enough! If you find yourself in this category, here are some tips to keep your holiday healthy:

--Have a plan, and you will be less likely to overeat. Have an idea of the foods you will enjoy, and those you may need to avoid. Recently, I attended a party where there were healthy alternatives: boiled shrimp, vegetables with dip, and hummus, so I filled my plate with those foods and avoided the sweets.

--For dinner parties, eat one plate of food. Don’t go back for seconds. Oh, and don’t forget your veggies. They help you feel full.

--Avoid nibbling. Enjoy your meal and be done with it. There will be more tomorrow. Sometimes I chew sugar-free gum after a meal so that I am not tempted to nibble.

--Have one serving of dessert. Funny, the spell check on my computer suggested this sentence have a question mark after it instead of a period, as though one serving of dessert may not be possible. It is. Possible.

--Stay hydrated. Sometimes when we think we are hungry (but we just ate an hour ago), our bodies actually need fluid. Drink water or low-calorie, noncaffeinated beverages.

--Don't stuff yourself. Eat until you are satisfied. When we stuff ourselves, our "full" signal may get lost, and we continue eating, and eating, and eating.

Finally, enjoy the holidays. It's a time of giving and sharing, a time to see friends and family we don't get to see often enough. It's when you get together with a friend from childhood, and though miles have separated you, your hearts still connect and it’s as though you've never lost a minute together. That's what the holidays are about. Peace to you and yours!

Dear Dietitian

Leanne McCrate, RD, LD, CNSC is a Registered Dietitian, Licensed Dietitian, and Certified Nutrition Support Clinician from St. Louis, Mo.