Family Holidays: A Dieter's Survival Guide
Your game plan for sensible celebrating
Make Time for Fitness
Finding time for daily physical activity is one of the most important
strategies to avoid holiday weight gain. Do everything you can to maintain your
routine and fit in fitness each day. It burns calories, keeps your muscles
strong -- and helps you cope with the stress that is often associated with the
On party days, pump it up a notch. If you usually walk for 45 minutes, try
to push it to an hour. Adding a little intensity or duration to your physical
activity will allow you to splurge a little at the festive gathering.
Bring a Healthy Dish
Arrive at the party with a dish to share with family and friends. Most
hostesses delight in letting guests add to the bounty, and it gives you a
chance to make sure there is healthy food for you to enjoy.
Browse our recipe
collection or ask our "Recipe Doctor," Elaine Magee to lighten your
favorite holiday dish.
Host a Nutritious Party
I will eat whatever you serve me at your house, but when you come to mine,
expect to enjoy the taste of eating right. My family always insists on bringing
the sweet-potato casserole at Thanksgiving because otherwise, they know they
will be served plain, roasted sweet potatoes that bubble with natural
The stuffing in my turkey is full of apples, celery, onions, whole-grain
bread and nuts, with a minimum of fat. Veggies are simply prepared and abundant
on the table. Gravy is defatted, mashed potatoes are made with low-fat milk and
fat-free sour cream, and salad dressings and dips are made with low-fat
ingredients. It really is easy to cook healthfully, as long as you're equipped
with good recipes.
Call it the curse of a dietitian. Healthy cooking is in my veins, and as a
result, my holiday meals and parties are always a dieter's delight. Let me
assure you, the food is wonderful, because nutritious and delicious can
So why not give it a try? Let this be your year to host a healthy holiday
"Eat, Eat, Eat!"
Well-meaning family members can sabotage your best efforts with their
insistence that you eat more. Your challenge is to politely, but firmly,
decline second helpings because you "couldn't possibly eat another
bite," or whichever excuse you choose. If you are handed goodies on your
way out the door, drop them off at a shelter, give them to a friend, or bring
them to work. Keep them out of your house so you won't be compelled to finish
Family holiday traditions are something we all know and cherish. Keep in
mind that when you're trying to establish new, healthier eating patterns, you
can continue to enjoy the holidays with family -- just not exactly in the way
you used to.
So establish a few new traditions. Start the day with a family football
game, or take a family walk. Try new, lighter recipes. Serve
"mocktails" instead of cocktails. Approach this year with a can-do
attitude that allows you to savor the taste sensations of the holidays without
overeating or feeling deprived.
Most important, move food out of the limelight and focus on the love and
fellowship of family and friends -- the real reason we gather to celebrate the