March is National Nutrition Month, when the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reminds everyone to return to the basics of healthy eating. It is also the time of year when the Academy celebrates expertise of registered dietitian nutritionists as the food and nutrition experts.
On average, Americans gain approximately one to two pounds during the holiday season. While this weight gain isn't dramatic, research shows it tends to stick and accumulate over the years. With just a few strategies, you can avoid holiday weight gain while still enjoying friends, family and the holiday feast!
In preparation for a big holiday party or feast, do not skip meals throughout the day. This can result in overeating later. High-fiber foods will satisfy hunger and can be lower in calories, so include fruits, vegetables and whole grains in your meals.
Holiday meals tend to be large, buffet-style and include second and third helpings. While most wouldn't consider eating an entire cake, a common mistake is eating large portions of foods that are perceived as healthy. Including nutrient-rich foods in your diet is great, just remember that these foods have calories too and should be enjoyed in moderation.
There are many strategies to help you avoid overeating. Using a smaller plate, for instance, allows you to put less food on your plate and encourages proper portion sizes. Also, start by filling your plate with vegetables and salad before going to the entrees and desserts. Research shows eating a salad before your meal can help you eat fewer calories overall. Eat slowly and savor every bite, and before you go back for seconds, wait 10 minutes to see if you really are still hungry.
Using this approach at the holiday dinner table will allow you to maintain a healthful eating plan — one that can also include dessert!
For more information on eating healthy during the holidays and all year round, consult a registered dietitian nutritionist in your area.