Diet Restrictions and the Holidays: A Survival Guide to Healthy Eating

Who doesn’t look forward to the holidays? There’s a unique spirit in the air, and it’s a time of good cheer and goodwill. We anticipate joyful holiday gatherings with family and friends and the opportunity to give as well as to receive.

And, of course, there are those sumptuous holiday feasts with a cornucopia of wonderful things to eat! 

So Many Tempting Holiday Foods, So Little … Willpower 

“For those with dietary restrictions as well as those who just want to eat healthy, the holiday season can present some major challenges,” says Adrienne O. Burns, MS, RDN, LDN, Clinical Dietitian at Bryn Mawr Terrace in Bryn Mawr, PA. 

“With so many delicious foods and desserts to tempt us during the holidays, exercising restraint can be difficult for even the most strong-willed among us. Fortunately, however, there’s help in the form of expert guidelines compiled by healthy eating specialists and experts on eating for those with dietary restrictions.” 

For example, the articles“Holiday Season Eating for People with Diabetes,” “5 Healthy Eating Tips for the Holidays” and “9 Healthy Holiday-Eating Strategies,” are all excellent holiday dietary resources. Their suggestions can help you make healthy eating choices and limit tempting, high calorie foods during the holidays and other special occasions. If you have questions about any dietary restrictions, it’s always wise to check with your physician.

9 Healthy Eating Tips for the Holidays 

  1. Don’t arrive at your holiday gathering on an empty stomach! Although you may be tempted to skip lunch so you can splurge on dessert, don’t! Eat breakfast or snacks earlier in the day and avoid the idea of saving carbs for the big feast later on. If you skip meals, it may be harder to manage your blood sugar.
  2. Eat the best-for-you offerings first. For example, hot soup as a first course – especially when it's broth-based, not cream-based – can help you avoid eating too much during the main course.
  3. Limit the number of servings of starchy foods on your plate during your holiday feast. It might be tempting to have some mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole and rolls; however, try to choose just one of these items. Or just take a few spoonfuls or bites of each.
  4. Choose fruits and vegetables served raw, grilled or steamed. Avoid vegetables in creams, gravies and butter.
  5. Stick to calorie-free drinks such as water, tea, seltzer, or diet sodas instead of punch or mixed drinks. If you choose to drink alcohol, limit the amount and have it with food. Alcohol provides many calories and virtually no nutrients.
  6. Avoid eating too many snacks. Save your calories for the main meal. Also, try not to sit within arm’s reach of tempting snack foods.
  7. Bring your own food. Contribute a healthy dish to your holiday gathering that fits your dietary restrictions to ensure there’s something you can indulge in.
  8. After your holiday meal, take a walk with family and friends. Exercise will also get you moving, keep you focused on your goals, and give you a welcome break from being surrounded by treats. Exercise is also a great way to lower your blood sugar levels.
  9. If you overindulge, don’t beat yourself up. If you eat more carbs or food than you planned for, don’t think you have failed, just make a plan to get back on track the next day.

Adrienne adds, “By following these expert tips on healthy holiday eating, you can still enjoy the feasts without going overboard and violating your dietary restrictions or your personal goals. Eat drink and be merry, but within reason. As registered dietitians are quick to point out, as we approach the holiday season, moderation is always the key!”

For more helpful senior living and senior care information, we invite you to read our monthly articles and tips on a variety of important senior health topics. We also welcome you to stop in for a tour to see for yourself why we’ve been rated “Best of the Main Line” for nursing care and our CCRC. 

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If you have comments or questions about our blog, we’d love to hear from you. We also encourage you to share any of your caregiving experiences with us in our comments section.

A Healthy Tradition of Care and Wellness 

There are times when the challenges associated with advanced age, a prolonged illness or a chronic condition make 24-hour care and support a necessity. At Bryn Mawr Terrace, we’re always here for you and your family. Our compassionate, professional team treats our residents as family and respects each of them as the individuals they are, all with their own unique life story.

We understand that each one of our residents has unique needs and desires, so we deliver personalized care and services that are tailored to each individual. The amenities and activities offered within our community are designed to keep our residents happy, fulfilled and living well. From delicious dining to a variety of social programming, we offer a lifestyle that’s meant to be lived! 

Located near Bryn Mawr Hospital, Bryn Mawr Terrace – part of Main Line Senior Care Alliance – has provided exceptional care and services to seniors and their families since 1966. It’s a tradition we’re proud to continue.

Today, Bryn Mawr Terrace serves as a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC), offering a range of services – including short-term rehabilitation, traditional nursing care, independent living, personal care, memory care, restorative care and respite care – all in a setting that is warm, welcoming and nurturing.

For more information on Bryn Mawr Terrace and our variety of needs-based lifestyle services, please call us at 610.525.8300 or contact us online.

Disclaimer: The articles and tip sheets on this website are offered by Bryn Mawr Terrace and Main Line Senior Care Alliance for general informational and educational purposes and do not constitute legal or medical advice. For legal or medical advice, please contact your attorney or physician.

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