Happy Holiday Eating

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Duke Student Health Nutrition
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Exams are almost over – chances are you’ve adapted pretty well to your school eating routines by now – whether it’s eating with friends or grabbing a bite on the way to the next class or meeting. But wouldn’t you know it, the holidays are just around the corner and everything is about to change again.  The holidays can be a wonderful time of year, but they are usually associated with a lot of food and eating: for some this can be challenging. Consider using some of the following tips to stay well and focused during this time. 

  1. Set reasonable goals. This usually isn’t the time of year to work on any type of weight loss goals, so aim instead to maintain your weight.
  2. Try not to let yourself get too hungry. Your holiday meal will likely have a bunch of delicious foods to indulge in. Before you head out, try to eat a light, balanced snack, such as a piece of fruit with some yogurt or peanut butter, a granola bar, half of a sandwich, or some soup about an hour before leaving. That way you have better control over food selections and portion sizes at the party.
  3. Avoid skipping meals. We may think skipping meals is a good idea when we know we have a big holiday meal to look forward to, but chances are if you skip meals you will be over hungry when it’s meal time and will likely overeat.
  4. Choose your foods wisely: There will be plenty of options, but if you’re trying to choose healthier options, choose more of the fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and seafood. This will allow room for a holiday dessert!
  5. Mindful Eating: If you are concerned about overeating, remember to eat slowly and savor these special holiday foods – some of which you only get to eat once a year. Eating slowly will allow you to appreciate these foods and recognize when you’re full. A helpful tip to eat slower is to have a conversation with a friend or family member, take smaller portions, and consciously sip your drink throughout. (This is a great tip year-round!)
  6. Eat a balanced meal: Aim for a good source of protein, such as turkey, chicken, fish and tofu, and balance it with a healthy starch, such as whole grain bread, sweet potatoes or brown rice. The protein slows digestion to help you feel satisfied, and keep you fuller longer.
  7. Chill out: Try to not get stressed out by family and friends you haven’t seen in a while. Try to manage your stress with activities other than eating – take a walk, visit a friend, or put on some music.
  8. Keep Moving: You may find being home for holidays allows you more time to move – try to move most mornings before the days get too crazy. Even a brisk walk or stroll will help with digestion, stress relief, and fitness. However, don’t overdo just because you have more time. Remember, if you wish to continue exercising regularly, it will need to fit into your routine at school.
  9. Enjoy: remember being home for the holidays usually means no homework! Focus on your friends and family and try to not over-think your food.
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