3 Things An RD Wishes You Knew About Holiday Food

Stephanie Nelson, RD
by Stephanie Nelson, RD
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3 Things An RD Wishes You Knew About Holiday Food

Our disposition when it comes to holiday eating is typically “eat the cake,” but with a few caveats. After all, part of having a healthy relationship with food is eating the foods you enjoy the most year-round.

But unfortunately, many of us struggle with various aspects of eating a well-balanced diet. Especially around the holidays.

Perhaps Greek writer Pausanias said it best: Know Thyself. Whether it’s sugar cravings, not getting enough fruits and veggies, or just too much of a good thing—the most impactful thing you can do is know yourself and what your individual struggles are when it comes to living healthily.

With that, here are three RD-approved things you can do this holiday season to help maintain or improve your relationship with your health.

WHAT AN RD WISHES YOU KNEW ABOUT
HOLIDAY FOOD

1. FOCUS ON WHAT YOU CAN DO

When we focus on what we can’t have or shouldn’t do, it may feel overwhelming or perpetuate unhealthy habits causing us to return to old routines.

Instead, focus on how you can make yourself healthier during the holidays so you can stay engaged with your health—not your shortcomings.

TIP: Look at your routine and what is working. Is there a simple way to integrate new habits to make yourself just a little bit healthier? Focusing on how to make your diet more nutritious or how to move more are great ways to improve your relationship with your health.

You can make it a goal to always strive for your recommended three cups of vegetables daily or hit the gym a minimum of twice a week—do whatever works for you.

The main point is to think about what you can do and not about what you need to stop doing.

2. IT’S ALL ABOUT BABY STEPS

Oftentimes, we want to change everything about our diet and activity level to see quick results and get disappointed when it doesn’t pan out. That’s why many of us go right back to old routines after a few short months.

That’s also why small improvements to your routine are often the most successful. Making 1-2 improvements at a time can give you a better shot at making it a lasting habit.

TIP: Try something like walking two days a week in the evenings, or adding a piece of fruit instead of reaching for your holiday “something sweet.”

The key to making it work is to make sure it’s a simple change for you and your existing lifestyle even through this busy season.

These changes might not sound as exciting as making huge changes and seeing big results, but they will help you maintain a healthier lifestyle in the long term. Give it a try and you may find that you pick up these healthier habits much easier.

3. DON’T FORGET ABOUT PROTEIN AND FIBER 

Focusing on eating an overall balanced diet is always the goal. For many people, this means getting enough vitamins, minerals, fiber, and protein as these nutrients are difficult for many Americans to get enough of.

TIP: High-fiber foods are often rich in vitamins and minerals, therefore the focus should be increasing your fiber and protein.

These nutrients can help negate unwanted overeating and assist with weight management by helping you to feel full, promote muscle growth and maintenance, improve your metabolism, and balance your blood sugars. It’s super important to get enough of these nutrients!

But first, check if you’re getting enough by tracking your food on the MyFitnessPal app. If you find you’re like many Americans and don’t get enough fiber and protein, try adding more to your diet.

Examples of foods that are high in fiber include:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Legumes
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Whole grains

Examples of protein-rich foods include:

  • Meat
  • Poultry
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Lentils
  • Beans
  • Peas
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Yogurt
  • Cottage cheese
  • Many soy products

Make sure to add at least one fiber and protein-rich food into each meal and snack, and of course enjoy your favorite holiday treat from time to time!

The holidays aren’t easy. But with a little guidance from our Registered Dietitians here at MyFitnessPal, you’ll have one less thing to worry about—after all, we’re here to support your health and fitness goals all the way.

Don’t forget, you can stay in the know about all the foods at your family’s table with MyFitnessPal. Download the app today for Apple and Android.

About the Author

Stephanie Nelson, RD
Stephanie Nelson, RD

Stephanie (MS, RD) is a Registered Dietitian and is MyFitnessPal’s in-house nutrition expert and nutrition scientist. Passionate for promoting healthy lifestyles, Stephanie graduated from San Diego State University with a focus on research and disease prevention. In the past, she’s worked in cancer research and given nutrition advice to Olympic athletes and U.S. Marines undergoing extreme physical training. When she’s not thinking about food, writing about food, or eating, you can find her cuddling her dogs, on the yoga mat, attached to her snowboard, or climbing rocks.

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