Hawaii Health Alerts: Tips to Eat Less During the Holidays

Medically reviewed in November 2021

Every holiday family dinner, I have the same goal when it comes to eating: Small portions, no thirds and no ice cream with dessert. But it’s easy for self-control to go out the window, especially when my absolute favorite comfort food—mashed potatoes—is around. Sometimes I think I could finish an entire bowl of that buttery, calorie-laden, two-times-a-year dish. I don’t, but I definitely eat more than I should.

With my struggle in mind, I jumped at the chance to learn more holiday weight management tips at one of HMSA’s health education workshops called Season’s Eatings. Health education workshops cover everything from women’s health, to stress management. Registration is required, but classes are free to HMSA members.

At Season’s Eatings, HMSA health and well-being educator Pete Clines noted that increased calorie consumption over the holidays often begins as early as Halloween. Without accountability tools, the holidays can be a dangerous time for your waistline and well-being. “You might forget about that candy bar you just ate, but your body doesn’t,” Clines said.

Instead of setting ambitious weight loss goals during the holidays, Clines recommends focusing on maintaining your weight instead. To maintain and not gain during the holidays, Clines provided the following tips.

1. Be mindful. Eat slowly, drink water before and during your meal, and stop when you’re about 80 percent full.

2. Use a small plate. The size of your plate may affect how much you eat. If smaller plates or bowls are available, opt to use those.

3. Be selective. When at a buffet or family dinner, prioritize what you’d like to eat and avoid getting seconds or thirds.

4. Choose wisely. Pack your plate with mainly fruits and vegetables and choose oil-based salad dressings (or avoid dressing altogether).

5. Watch your beverages. Egg nog, hot chocolate, alcoholic drinks, artificial juice, fruit punch and soda are several examples of holiday drinks that may add up quickly.

6. Take no prisoners. Avoid taking home desserts or leftovers if you can help it unless you know those items are healthier (such as salad or lean meat).

7. Keep track. One of the best accountability tools is a daily food journal or mobile app that helps you log everything you’re eating. Without it, you may not realize you’ve already consumed two pieces of Jell-O and a sweetened latte in the morning. You can also weigh yourself at least once a week.

For more information about HMSA’s health education workshops, go to hmsa.com/well-being/workshops. To register for a class, call 1 (855) 329-5461, toll-free.

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