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You Can Eat Healthy and Still Enjoy the Holidays

November 23, 2020
Stuffing, gravy, pie, cake, cookies, and candy. It can be a challenge to eat healthy during the holidays, but Jana Wolff, RDN, LDN, Director of Nutrition at GBMC’s Bariatric Surgery and Comprehensive Obesity Management Program, has some great advice to help you enjoy the holidays (even the cookies!) while making healthier eating choices. She talked with Ashley James, anchor of WMAR-2 Good Morning Maryland, about healthy swaps for holiday favorites, where to find healthy recipes, and why she doesn’t believe in “forbidden foods.”

“While many people do gain weight during the holidays, making goals that focus on losing a certain number of pounds often just end up with people frustrated and hungry,” Jana said. “This holiday season, instead of making number-based goals, try setting action-based goals. Work to increase the amount of exercise you get, eat more fruits and vegetables, and try mindful eating. Then the numbers in terms of lost pounds will follow.”

Mindful eating can be especially helpful when you’re faced with lots of holiday treats. Rather than just popping food in your mouth without thinking, mindful eating focuses on slowing down and listening to your body’s hunger and fullness signals. It’s also important not to skip meals so you can eat more later in the day. What usually happens is that by dinner time, you’re starving and overeat.

“I don’t think there’s value in denying yourself certain foods,” Jana explained. “There really are no ‘forbidden foods.’ It’s about moderation. Anything can fit into your eating plan; you just need to moderate the amount of that food that you eat.”

For people who are looking for healthy recipe options, she recommends Skinny Taste, New York Times, and Eatright.org. And if you want to lose weight, Jana says to remember that change takes times. A good first step is to keep a food log so you know what you’re eating, then talk with a dietitian who can help you make an eating plan that you can stick with for life.

“Diets are a short-term solution,” she said. “What you want to do is to make changes you can live with for the long term. It’s those consistent changes that make the difference.”
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