10 Tips for Making Your Holiday Meal Game Plan

Considering the time of year, we’ll bet you have a holiday dinner (or four) with friends and family coming up. The Yes Health coaches are here with their 10 best tips to help you fully enjoy yourself without feeling overly full or undoing your new, healthier habits. 

  1. “Don’t wait until the big meal to eat,” says Coach Eden. “It’s common for people to eat very lightly or skip eating entirely in anticipation of the holiday feast.” While it might seem like a good way to redistribute or “save” calories, if you let yourself get too hungry this can lead to low blood sugar and overeating. “Try sticking to your normal meals. You’ll still have room to enjoy your favorites and will be far less likely to over do it,” she says.
  2. Fill your plate as you would normally. Load up on veggies (the kind that aren’t fried or covered in gravy or marshmallows) and keep protein and starches (mashed potatoes, stuffing, etc.) to about ½ to ¾ cup total. Save the green bean casserole and candied yams for a smaller treat-sized portion of your plate. The goal is to make your combined carbs and sweets ¾ cup or less.
  3. Start thinking about healthy recipes to bring to your holiday meal and ways to tweak your holiday favorites into healthier versions. Ask the coaches for ideas and check out some of our previous holiday posts: 
  4. Eat mindfully and savor every bite. This helps prevent overeating  and enhances your overall enjoyment. Check out more mindful eating tips here.
  5. Be flexible. If you do end up eating foods you didn’t plan on, it’s okay! Telling yourself you can’t indulge (even on holidays) or giving yourself a hard time about it can set yourself up for feeling bad and making poor choices. So give yourself a break and enjoy. “One meal is unlikely to derail your health goals as long as you get back on track the next day,” Coach Eden says. 
  6. It’s okay to say no. If you’re worried about peer pressure, have specific reasons in mind for why you might refuse certain things. For example, if someone offers you an alcoholic drink, instead of simply saying, “No thank you,” say “No thank you, I’m feeling dehydrated and need to drink some water.”
  7. Make time for movement. Take a walk around the neighborhood to admire the holiday decorations, build a snowman, go sledding, strength train while watching your favorite seasonal movies or put on some danceable holiday tunes while you do housework. This will help keep you feeling refreshed and de-stressed.
  8. Focus on connection. Instead of filling time with extra snacking and drinking, be intentional about talking with relatives you don’t see often, playing games with the kids or organizing a group activity.
  9. Pick your treats in advance. Decide what your special indulgences will be before sitting down to eat. Rather than taking “some of everything,” skip the stuffing and rolls if what you really want is pumpkin pie or extra mashed potatoes.
  10. Practice portion control. Okay, let’s say you want to have it all. Here’s how you can still stay within the recommended “healthy plate” model. (Note: a “spoonful” means a regular teaspoon, not a ladle or serving spoon.) 
    • Turkey: about the size of a deck of cards
    • Gravy: 1-2 spoonfuls
    • Stuffing: 2 spoonfuls
    • Cranberry sauce: 2 spoonfuls 
    • Mashed potatoes: 2 spoonfuls 
    • Sweet potato casserole: 1 spoonful 
    • Green bean casserole: 2 spoonfuls 
    • Salad: about half your plate (assuming it’s mostly non-starchy veggies) 
    • Pumpkin pie: 1 wedge about the width of the flat side of a butter knife; if you want both pumpkin and pecan, make each piece about half that width

 

 

 


Yes Health is a low-cost, weight loss and diabetes-prevention program committed to helping everyone live healthier, happier lives.