Nov 17, 2014

Holiday dinners are filled with heaping dishes of comfort foods, fattening favorites and savory treats. It is no wonder these meals leave us feeling stuffed – often with guilt and holiday remorse.

Gena Seraita, a registered dietitian at NewYork-Presbyterian/Allen Hospital, says you can avoid this guilt – and the extra calories. "The holidays are a perfect time to practice the art of mindful eating. At holiday parties, take stock of the food that is available and try to avoid mindlessly eating because the food has you surrounded. Always portion your food on a small plate before consuming and never snack directly from the serving dish to control your calorie intake."

Alissa Rumsey, a registered dietitian at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, says, “If you’re watching your weight, or just trying to eat healthy, you don’t have to deprive yourself of a great holiday meal. However, you do need a plan so you don’t end up feeling stuffed – and remorseful – after dinner.”

The following is the holiday feast survival guide – a roadmap to keep you and your diet from straying too far this year.

1. Re-think your appetizers. Incorporate healthier pre-meal snack options. Include a platter of beautiful berries, pineapple and apples.

2. Choose smaller portions. You can still taste all the foods in your holiday spread without overeating. Remember, an occasional indulgence will not destroy your weight-loss attempts, and if you don’t love something, don’t eat it.

3. The only thing that should be stuffed during the holidays is the turkey! Just because there is more food sitting around does not mean you need to eat more. A forkful of pie will do less damage than a whole piece.

4. Have a calorie-free chat instead of second helpings. The holidays are a great time to engage in conversation with your loved ones – and this will not add inches to your waistline. Just be sure to move the conversation away from the food!

5. Make sure you eat prior to a holiday party or dinner. You are less likely to overeat if you have eaten well throughout the day.

6. Include your exercise program as one of your holiday activities. Bundle up and take a walk after your holiday meal – this can not only keep you from overeating and picking at leftovers, but is also a great way to burn off some of the extra calories you may have consumed.

7. Enjoy light calorie drinks. A glass of wine (white, red or champagne – your pick) is just 120 calories or a light beer (only 100 calories). You can stick to your plan and enjoy happy hour.

For more information, patients may call 866-NYP-NEWS.

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, based in New York City, is one of the nation’s largest and most comprehensive hospitals and a leading provider of inpatient, ambulatory and preventive care in all areas of medicine. With some 2,600 beds and more that 6,500 affiliated physicians and 20,000 employees, NewYork-Presbyterian had more than 2 million visits in 2013, including close to 15,000 infant deliveries and more than 310,000 emergency department visits. NewYork-Presbyterian comprises six campuses: NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital, NewYork-Presbyterian/The Allen Hospital, NewYork-Presbyterian/Westchester Division and NewYork-Presbyterian/Lower Manhattan Hospital. The hospital is also closely affiliated with NewYork-Presbyterian/Lawrence Hospital in Bronxville. NewYork-Presbyterian is the #1 hospital in the New York metropolitan area, according to U.S. News & World Report, and consistently named to the magazine’s Honor Roll of best hospitals in the nation. Affiliated with two world-renowned medical schools, Weill Cornell Medical College and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, NewYork-Presbyterian is committed to excellence in patient care, research, education and community service.

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