Fall has arrived, and quickly approaching us is the holiday season. Invitations to dinner parties we don’t want to miss will soon trickle into your inboxes, work socials with holiday pot lucks will begin, and we might find ourselves wondering, “How can I avoid weight gain with all of this food around me?” It is important not to stress over what you can and cannot enjoy. In fact, you should still be able to enjoy everything, but with one tip to remember – moderation is key for your bariatric health! So how can you enjoy healthy eating during the holidays? Here are seven healthy eating tips to keep you on track this season:

  1. Focus on your protein. Remember, your goal is 3oz of protein 3 times per day. Look for the turkey or ham, or take your own high protein stuffing dish or sausage and cheese meatballs. Ask yourself, “Did I get 3oz of protein in?”
  2. Control your portion sizes. Moderation, moderation, moderation….our eyes will be much bigger than our stomachs. Grab a smaller plate, and don’t work to fill the plate. You should still be able to see the plate between each food item.
  3. Eat before you go. If you arrive to a dinner party hungry, you are more likely to overeat. Make sure you eat balanced, nutritious meals for breakfast and lunch before heading out to that dinner party.
  4. Be mindful and pace yourself. Remember you need to be looking for the feeling of satiety (fullness) so that you know when to stop and not overeat. You should take at least 20 minutes to finish your plate.
  5. Decrease your food availability. It’s easy to eat unconsciously at a party, especially if you are talking to friends or co-workers right next to the party trays and buffet line. Grab your plate and migrate away from the food. If it’s not directly in front you, you won’t be as tempted to keep grabbing bites.
  6. Remember to stay hydrated! Drink plenty of water throughout the day and continue to take in fluids after the party. Especially if you plan on drinking alcohol at the party, which can dehydrate you.
  7. Don’t forget to be physically active throughout the season. Physical activity in addition to healthy eating will help prevent weight gain. Aim for 30 minutes of cardio activity at least 5 days per week. Taking a 10-minute walk on a few times a day adds up to 30 minutes, making it easy to complete this goal.

In addition to these tips, consider making your own healthy holiday dishes to enjoy at home or take to that work potluck. Here are some healthy holiday cooking tips from The Bariatric Team at UCLA:

  • Grilled asparagus with bacon, basil and sesame

    Grilled asparagus with bacon, basil and sesame

    Asparagus and Bacon appetizer: wrap 3-4 stalks of asparagus together with 1 slice of bacon. Roast in the oven on 350 degrees F for 15-20 minutes.
  • Try mashed or whipped cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes for a low carb dish. Recipe: steam cauliflower until tender, about 10 minutes. Then place the cauliflower in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Once creamy, add garlic, parmesan cheese, and black pepper.
  • Gravies: refrigerate first to harden the fat, then remove all the visible fat before heating up to serve.
  • Green bean casserole: cook fresh green beans with cubed potato pieces instead of cream based soups. Top with sliced or roasted almonds instead of fried onions.
  • Holiday egg nog: Blend together 4 bananas, 1 ½ cups of skim milk, ½ cups of plain nonfat yogurt, and ¼ teaspoon of rum extract, until smooth. Top with ¼ teaspoon of nutmeg. Serves: 8.
  • Desserts: Substitute 2 egg whites for each whole egg in your recipes. Try a low carb dessert such as crustless pumpkin pie. Use fresh fruits to top cakes instead of frosting.


Healthy Eating During the Holiday Season By: Michelle Adams MS, RD, LD

Reference: UCLA Center for Obesity and METabolic Health (COMET), http://bariatrics.ucla.edu/body.cfm?id=51