Every year as the summer comes to an end, it feels as though the holidays appear suddenly.

Even as a registered dietitian at the James A. Haley VA Medical Center, I have to remind myself during this time of the year to stay focused on eating healthy and keeping up with exercise.  It can be easy to get off track. It’s not hard to eat a few too many handfuls of sweets or go back for seconds, but you never want to forget about all the healthy habits you have established.

Here are some tips that can help you stay on track this holiday season so you don’t feel defeated when the New Year rolls around:

Tip No. 1: Grab a low or no-calorie beverage, such as sparkling water or hot tea, to sip on while mingling at holiday gatherings so you don’t fill up on as many appetizers or high-calorie beverages.

Tip No. 2: Bring a healthy dish to share so you know you will have at least one healthy option to choose from and remember portion control when dishing up those higher-calorie dishes. Check out this list that includes the calorie content of common holiday treats.

Tip No. 3: Find ways to be active with your family and friends. This may include playing some football, going on a hike or a nice long family walk while reminiscing on previous holidays.

Tip No.  4: Everything in moderation. We all have our favorite dishes when it comes to the holidays, so treat yourself but remember to do so in moderation. Use a smaller plate or bowl so you can better control your portion or have someone else dish it for you to help you stay on track. I’ve heard it said to indulge, not over-indulge!

Tip No.  5 – Practice mindful eating. Try not to rush through your meal – savor every bite! Don’t be distracted by conversations and the hustle and bustle at the table, try to reflect on the taste of your favorites as you eat them.

Check out the MOVE! website for even more tips as you prepare for the holidays and tackle your new year’s resolutions.  Talk to your PACT dietitian or inquire about MOVE! at your local VA facility if you are interested in learning more about healthy holiday eating or more tips to help you stay focused on your goals!

Chelsea SkillmanChelsea Skillman is a registered dietitian at the Tampa VA. She is a new mom to her four month old son and enjoys spending time outdoors with her family. Chelsea is the granddaughter of two Veterans and thanks each and every one of you for your service.

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Published on Dec. 15, 2016

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