10 tips for navigating 'national eating season'

Dec 9, 2010

uci gigliotti linda
How can you enjoy holiday eating without going overboard? Linda Gigliotti, director of UC Irvine’s Weight Management Program, offers 10 tips to prevent packing on extra pounds:

  1. Make yourself a “health calendar.” Map out your food choices each week and schedule regular exercise. The calendar can help you prepare for a proliferation of parties and survive the Halloween-to-Super Bowl “national eating season,” said Gigliotti, a registered dietitian. “The best four-letter word to use is plan. Stop, take a deep breath and anticipate the situation.”

  2. Establish a calorie budget – the number of calories you can consume per day and maintain your current weight. “Look at high-calorie days and have a plan to offset those,” Gigliotti said. 

  3. Exercise. Every bit helps. Walk up stairs or around the block. Try to get a total of 30 minutes a day.

  4. Get enough sleep. People who are sleep-deprived are more prone to overeat, Gigliotti said.

  5. Arrive satisfied. “Plan for meals and snacks throughout the day prior to an event, so you’re having something – ideally low calorie like fruit or vegetables – every three hours,” Gigliotti said. “Don’t starve yourself throughout the day. That’s a setup to overconsume calories.” 

  6. Decide what foods are important to have. “I never would eat bread or a roll at a Thanksgiving dinner,” Gigliotti said. “I’m not going to waste my calories on that. Now stuffing we only make once a year. We’re going to have that and enjoy it.”

  7. Drink slim. Alcoholic drinks can pack calories without filling you up. Consider a club soda with a twist of lime. “If you have something in your hands, people are less likely to push food on you,” Gigliotti said.

  8. Be creative. Instead of a cookie exchange, Gigliotti does a soup exchange with friends, providing low-calorie meals for days.

  9. Practice “environmental control.” Buy smaller quantities of items and don’t put out fattening items at home or at work. “If it’s there, we’ll eat it,” Gigliotti said.

  10. If you do overindulge, don’t get discouraged. Compensate by reducing your caloric intake for a few days. “Look at the big picture,” Gigliotti said. “Have a healthy relationship with food choices.”

What are your best suggestions for battling the holiday bulge? For more tips, view UC Cooperative Extension advisor Brenda Roche’s Food Blog post and these other UC sites:

By Alec Rosenberg
Author - Communications Coordinator for Health/ANR