When it comes to holiday nutrition, no plan is a plan to fail

Baylor College for Medicine

Imagine you had $2,000 to spend on a shopping spree for one day – if you buy a really expensive item, then everything else you buy has to be cheap. Take the same approach with calories this holiday season – if you consume one very high calorie item in a day, the rest of your foods for the day should be low in calories, according to an expert at Baylor College of Medicine.

“During the holidays, it’s important to plan to succeed with your diet,” said Dr. Elizabeth Vaughan, assistant professor of internal medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. “So, if you have 2,000 calories to spend in one day, and you choose to eat a rich chocolate cake, then everything else you eat that day should be on the lower calorie side, such as fruits and vegetables.”

Vaughan, who is also a registered dietitian, recommends drinking one glass of water with each meal, which helps curb hunger. Give yourself 15 minutes after you’ve eaten before you decide to have seconds. Also, after you’re done eating, clear the table and leave the table. If you want to leave something out to snack on, choose fruits and vegetables.

Also be aware of beverages during the holidays, especially alcoholic beverages, which can rack up the calories. If you plan to enjoy a few alcoholic beverages one day, skip liquid calories the rest of the day and only consume water. Have a plan with alcohol, limiting yourself to one or two drinks at a holiday event.

For those who are traveling this holiday season, whether by car or airplane, she suggests packing snacks for the trip so that you are not starving when you arrive at your destination, which will cause you to eat more. Apples, carrots and cheese are great snacks that are easy for travel. At the airport, try to grab a sandwich with whole wheat bread, cheese and veggies and bring it with you on the airplane instead of purchasing high calorie snacks on the plane.

These tips are especially important for someone who is already struggling with their weight.

“Studies have revealed that the average weight gain during the holidays is only about one pound. However, studies have also demonstrated that the average weight gain in individuals who have a body mass index of 25 or more (overweight/obese) is five pounds during the holidays,” Vaughan said.

Since calories in versus calories out is fundamental to weight management, be sure to also find time for exercise during the holidays. To succeed, it’s a good idea to have someone to do this with. It also sets a mental tone for staying healthy during the holidays.

Vaughan said that during the holiday season, even if you don’t lose a pound, it’s still a success if you manage not to gain any extra weight.

Baylor College for Medicine