While the holiday season only comes around once a year, nutrition expert Molly Kimball, RD, CSSD, says there’s no reason to abandon all dietary routines in favor of indulging in unhealthy foods.
“One of the downfalls that will happen is that people are holding out for big meals,” Kimball said. “People will skip breakfast or lunch because they have a big party or event that night, and they end up eating a lot more when they get there.”
Skipping regular snacks and meals in order to “save room” for a later meal leads to larger servings of unhealthy foods, Kimball said.
In order to work off a one cup serving of homemade macaroni and cheese, which packs 365 calories, Kimball said a 150-pound person would have to run at a six mile an hour pace for 36 minutes.
It takes a 44 minute brisk walk to work off a 310 calorie, one cup serving of sweet potato casserole, and 110 minutes of walking at a moderate pace to burn off a 405 calorie cup of eggnog, she said.
“If you’re going to an event, anticipate what’s going to be there,” she said. “If it’s appropriate, offer to bring something healthy. That way you know you’ll have a diet-friendly option. You’ll be generous in offering to bring something, but it’s also kind of a selfish thing because you know you’ll have something to fall back on.”
For people with multiple meals at separate locations on each holiday, Kimball recommends sticking to moderate servings of healthy foods with smaller tastes of decadent holiday indulgences.
“The healthy things that are never going to be a problem are things like vegetables, salads, turkey or ham, so that would be like your filler,” she said. “Pick one extra little splurge or indulgence at each location, but don’t overdo it.”
For recipes to make your holidays healthier, visit choose-healthy.org.