Healthy holiday eating tips courtesy of a clinical dietitian

Published: Nov. 23, 2022 at 6:51 PM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Food temptations are all around this time of year, so how can you make healthy choices while digging into your holiday meals? UVM Medical Center Clinical Dietitian Britt Richardson gave our Christina Guessferd some tips.

Reporter Christina Guessferd: Britt, thanks so much for being here.

Britt Richardson: Pleasure to be here. Thanks.

Christina Guessferd: Thanksgiving is upon us. What healthy habits can we form now that will serve us well over the holidays?

Britt Richardson: I think one thing that I really suggest to a lot of my clients is to start paying attention to our hunger and fullness cues so that when we’re in the middle of our meals, we’re sort of judging whether are we still enjoying this food? Are we satisfied with this food and figuring out a way to eat until we’re full but not overly full? And that practice can really serve us throughout the year, not just on holiday weeks, like this one.

Christina Guessferd: And this might apply to this question as well in during the holidays, we’re surrounded by all these delicious goodies. So how can we enjoy those traits without going overboard? Do you have some specific tips on moderation as opposed to limitation?

Britt Richardson: Yeah, I really encourage folks to choose the foods that satisfy you the most. Savor those foods bite by bite and make sure that you’re enjoying the celebration, too. It’s not just about the food, it’s always about the gathering, of the conversation, the family, the connections. And I also encourage folks to try to be as mindful as they can as they’re eating, making sure that we’re practicing grace and self-compassion, so that if we do eat past fullness, which is sort of normal for feast holidays, that we don’t shame ourselves on that. Pie never tastes good with a sign of guilt ever.

Christina Guessferd: And this is one that always stumps me: If breakfast is the most important meal of the day, what should you eat when there’s a big holiday meal that’s scheduled for the afternoon?

Britt Richardson: Well, hunger is a lot like a pendulum. So if you imagine this pendulum being pulled to one side, so say we’re trying to save calories for later, we’re gonna get really hungry. If we let go of that pendulum, we’re gonna go to extreme hunger. And often what happens is when we get to that extreme hunger phase, we eat way past fullness. So I recommend on those holiday days to eat breakfast, eat lunch, especially if your holiday dinner is toward dinnertime. So don’t try to save up those calories. Make sure that you’re doing yourself a favor to eat throughout the day. That’s going to keep your mood stable, your blood sugar stable, and it’s going to control those massive cravings that would otherwise come if we skipped meals.

Christina Guessferd: Now inflation has done a number on food prices. So how can we make those healthy choices at the grocery store on a budget?

Britt Richardson: This is such a good question, one we get quite a bit. You know, I think it’s important to remember that frozen and canned foods contain just as many nutrients as fresh foods and can cut costs quite a bit. So the same thing with dried foods like beans, lentils and things like that, that can supplement the table and bring a lot of nutrition into the meal, as well. That’s what I frequently recommend.

Christina Guessferd: All right, Britt Richardson, a clinical dietitian at UVM Medical Center. Thanks so much for the tips.

Britt Richardson:

Great to be here. Thank you so much.