How to Eat Healthier During the Holidays

Friday, December 12, 2014

Fruits and vegetables as Christmas decoration

This post was sponsored by Back to Balance Coalition who bring together food and beverage organizations, health advocacy groups, and nutrition professionals who are supporters of balance, variety and moderation in dietary guidance.

Nutrition advice is extremely confusing! Many popular diets advise to restrict certain foods or entire food groups, while many nutrition professionals continue to stress moderation and balance. Diets like Gluten-Free and Paleo recommend avoiding specific foods at all costs. Avoiding foods can get stressful and is virtually impossible to stick to, especially during the holidays. Although you may think the advice is repetitive, the majority of health care professionals agree the best approach to a healthy diet is having a balanced and varied diet—even during the holidays.

The Research
A new survey being released by Back to Balance Coalition found that 95% of health professionals support a practical, balanced approach that shows folks “how to” build a healthy diet verses condemning certain foods and limiting choices. Leading health and nutrition organizations, including the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention support the “all foods fit” approach – this is my philosophy as well.

In the thousands of articles and blog posts I’ve written, I always stress the importance of moderation. Some foods should be eaten less often than others, but ultimately all foods can fit into a healthy diet. Even my cookbook The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day has exact serving sizes for every recipe. So why do many folks think this approach hasn’t worked for them? Because they still aren’t doing it properly.

The “all foods fit” approach includes several factors:

  • Variety of foods including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low fat or nonfat dairy , lean protein, and healthy fats
  • Moderation of all food in the appropriate portions
  • Physical activity on a regular basis

 

How All Foods Can Fit
No two people have the same exact diet. Food choices depend on a variety of factors including accessibility, lifestyle, cultural preference, budget, taste preference and cooking skills. But there are also many practical tips that you can follow to ensure you are doing your best to eat healthier—especially during the holidays. Here are my top 5 Toby Tips for the holidays:

#1: Take a Lap
When you arrive at a party, take a lap around the room to check out all foods that are available (even dessert!). Then you can make smarter decisions as to which foods to eat and which to skip.

#2: Toby’s Two Tablespoon Rule
There are so many delicious foods you want to try over the holidays. Instead of avoiding or splurging overwhelming amounts, take 2 tablespoons of your favorite 2 or 3 of your foods. You won’t feel deprived and two tablespoons (times 2 or 3) is a good amount of food supplemented with lower calories fruits and vegetables.

#3: Downsize
Use smaller plates and glasses – this can help keep portions under control. Even if you love everything in sight, there is just so much you can fit on a smaller plate.

#4: Watch the Alcohol
Alcohol has calories too – especially if you throw back 3 or 4 drinks in one evening. Some specialty cocktails may contain upwards of 450 calories each, so be mindful of how much you drink. Try to rotate alcoholic beverages with no or low calories ones like water, seltzer, or unsweetened iced tea.

#5: Enjoy the Art of Conversation
The holidays are a time to catch up with friends, colleagues, and family. Instead of stuffing yourself on mindless munchies, take this opportunity to talk face-to-face – the art of real conversation has gotten lost in this age of electronics.

 

TELL ME: How do you build a healthier diet during the holidays?

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