The holiday season is upon us and everywhere you go these next few months it seems there will be food, and lots of it. With careful planning and a little will power though, it is possible to stay on track throughout the season and maintain that healthier lifestyle you've worked so hard for.

Sherman, Hulton Archive

The prevalence of obesity has increased within the last 20 years and remains high. More than one-third of adults and almost 17% of youth were obese in 2009–2010 (Retrieved Nov 26, 2012, from These are some startling numbers! There are many increased health risks associated with being overweight or obese including; type-2 diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancers. This makes it all the more important to stay on track with diet over the holidays, and it may be easier than you think!

Some foolproof tips include:

  • Survey the entire table before taking any food. Decide which foods you can skip and stick to that decision; why waste calories on foods you don’t truly enjoy?
  • Eat a snack before you leave home. If you arrive at an event starving you are more likely to overeat.
  • Sip a large glass of water between every alcoholic beverage; this will help you save calories throughout the night as well as ensure you stay hydrated!
  • Try to pick lower calorie drinks such as diet soda, lite beer or wine spritzers and avoid those heavy hitters such as eggnog, punches and some mixed drinks which can have up to 500 calories per serving.
  • If you are hosting, make sure the menu includes plenty of lower-calorie foods (fruits, veggies, lean meats) and if you bring a dish to share make sure it is a lower-calorie one.
  • Watch your portion sizes. Avoid covering your plate entirely with food. Also, leaving a few bites behind of everything you take will help ensure you do not overeat.
  • Try not to hang out near the food table. You will be more tempted to go back for seconds. Enjoy the company at the party rather than the food!
  • Savor the taste and texture of the delicious foods of the season; take small portions and eat slowly.
  • Finally, remember the true reason for the season. Enjoy time with family and friends. It’s ok if every holiday event is not focused around food.

If you have questions or would like to be set up with some diet education, call the Hannibal Regional Hospital Diabetes Center at 573-406-5823.

Contributed by Ana Thomas, RD LD, Hannibal Regional Hospital