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Simple Steps to Help You Eat Healthier This Holiday Season

Atrium Health Navicent dietitians encourage small swaps for big gains

The holidays can be a stressful time for anyone on a weight loss journey. Despite your best efforts, it can be difficult to follow through with an exercise routine and resist tempting, high-calorie foods. Studies show that even though the average American gains only a pound during the holiday season, that extra weight doesn’t easily come off in the months or years to come.

“The busy holiday season often means less time for exercise and more time spent in the presence of calorie-laden foods. Just a few extra calories each day, coupled with less physical activity, can lead to extra pounds. This can also have an effect on overall heart health and even your quality of sleep,” said Millie Smith, clinical nutrition manager at Atrium Health Navicent.

Atrium Health Navicent dietitians suggest the following tips:

Simple strategies

You shouldn’t have to abandon your favorite holiday foods. Here are a few strategies for making better choices:

• Try serving smaller portions of calorie-laden foods, and supplement that with fresh fruits and vegetables.

• Eat slowly to allow time to enjoy the meal and to register fullness.

• Be careful of which beverages you consume. Punch, eggnog and alcoholic drinks can add up to 300 calories or more per glass.

• Don’t abandon your physical fitness efforts. Even just a 20-minute walk can make a difference.

Ingredient swaps

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

• Low-fat mashed potatoes, pureed vegetables or a reduced-fat soup instead of creamed soup in casseroles

• Lean protein sources, such as fish or poultry, instead of cured meats

• Wine, broth or fruit juice instead of oil for sautéing vegetables

• Low-fat dairy products instead of high-fat dairy products

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

• Flavored water instead of eggnog, punch or alcoholic drinks

• Fruits and vegetables instead of starchy sides

“Try adding half the salt that is called for in the recipe to see how it affects the taste, then go heavy on spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. And remember, fresh spices provide great flavor,” Smith said. “A healthier holiday season doesn’t mean abandoning traditional holiday favorites. Make wise choices, enjoy your favorites in smaller portions and just be mindful!”

About Atrium Health Navicent

Atrium Health Navicent is the leading provider of healthcare in central and south Georgia and is committed to its mission of elevating health and wellbeing through compassionate care. 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