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Atrium Health Navicent Dietitians Offer Tips to Help You Eat Healthier this Holiday Season

From mid-November until the ball drops on New Year’s Eve, it seems not even Santa’s reindeer can outrun the trays of cookies, plates of pies and glasses of holiday cheer that are heaped upon us every holiday season. From work parties to social celebrations and family meals, calorie-laden temptations abound.

While most Americans gain between 7 and 10 pounds during November and December, there are ways to keep the party going while still maintaining healthy habits, and they don’t necessarily mean completely giving up the foods you love.

“I like to encourage everything in moderation! During the holidays, you can still enjoy traditional foods, or nostalgic foods that may be passed down from generations, but look for ways to decrease overall fat and calories, either through simple recipe swaps or through smaller serving sizes,” said Millie Smith, a registered dietitian at Atrium Health Navicent.

Ingredient swaps

A great way to prevent weight gain during the holidays is to enjoy healthier versions of your favorite sweets. Try swapping:

• Greek yogurt instead of sour cream or heavy cream

• Yogurt, applesauce or pureed pumpkin or banana instead of butter and oils

• Flavored water instead of eggnog, punch or alcoholic drinks

• Chopped fruits instead of fruit pies

• Dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate

• Fruit, such as applesauce and bananas, instead of refined sugar

Simple strategies

Before heading to the dessert table, here are a few strategies for making better choices:

• Try to stay active at least 20 minutes each day, even if it’s just taking a walk around the block.

• Drink a glass of water before attending gatherings. This helps you stay hydrated, and can also contribute to fullness.

• Put healthier options at the beginning of the serving line, and place less healthy options at the end of the table.

• Try serving smaller portions of desserts.

• Stand up. If you sit the entire time, you’re much more likely to “graze” and mindlessly eat.

“Peer pressure and constant food availability naturally makes it easy to over-eat. But even if you overindulge, this is not a time for guilt, but a time to examine choices and start fresh the next day,” Smith said.

About Atrium Health Navicent

Atrium Health Navicent is the leading provider of health care in central and south Georgia and is committed to its mission of elevating health and wellbeing through compassionate care. Atrium Health Navicent is part of Advocate Health, which is headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, and is the third-largest nonprofit health system in the United States, created from the combination of Atrium Health and Advocate Aurora Health. Atrium Health Navicent provides high-quality, personalized care in 53 specialties at more than 50 facilities throughout the region. As part of the largest, integrated, nonprofit health system in the Southeast, it is also able to tap into some of the nation’s leading medical experts and specialists with Atrium Health, allowing it to provide the best care close to home – including advanced innovations in virtual medicine and care. Throughout its 125-year history in the community, Atrium Health Navicent has remained dedicated to enhancing health and wellness for individuals throughout the region through nationally recognized quality care, community health initiatives and collaborative partnerships. It is also one of the leading teaching hospitals in the region, helping to ensure viability for rural health care for the next generation. For more information, please visit

About Advocate Health

Advocate Health is the third-largest nonprofit integrated health system in the United States – created from the combination of Advocate Aurora Health and Atrium Health. Providing care under the names Advocate Health Care in Illinois, Atrium Health in the Carolinas, Georgia and Alabama, and Aurora Health Care in Wisconsin, Advocate Health is a national leader in clinical innovation, health outcomes, consumer experience and value-based care, with Wake Forest University School of Medicine serving as the academic core of the enterprise. Headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, Advocate Health serves nearly 6 million patients and is engaged in hundreds of clinical trials and research studies. It is nationally recognized for its expertise in cardiology, neurosciences, oncology, pediatrics and rehabilitation, as well as organ transplants, burn treatments and specialized musculoskeletal programs. Advocate Health employs nearly 155,000 team members across 68 hospitals and over 1,000 care locations and offers one of the nation’s largest graduate medical education programs with over 2,000 residents and fellows across more than 200 programs. Committed to equitable care for all, Advocate Health provides nearly $6 billion in annual community benefits.