tips do you have to stay on a healthy diet during the holiday season?
gain because of increased access to more types of (yummy!) high-calorie
during the holiday season is a common and
legitimate concern. Actually I think this “season” starts
at Halloween with availability of all that candy! However, the fear
that most people gain 5-10# during this time of year is a misconception,
because research has shown a more typical gain is 1-2#. While that
amount of weight gain does not sound like a lot and may even bring
a sigh of relief, research has also shown that this weight gain is
often permanent, and thus over time, many years of this small holiday
weight gain does begin to add up and show up around the hips and the
Don’t take a holiday from your healthy lifestyle for the holiday
season, but you needn’t feel like the holiday Grinch either.
Here are some suggestions to help you maintain your healthy lifestyle
during this tempting season:
- Know and/or
redefine your goals. It may not be reasonable to continue to
lose weight if that has been your focus during the prior months.
However, it is reasonable to shoot for weight maintenance at this
- Never go
to a party hungry! Eat a little something healthy before you
leave home or the office to take the edge off your appetite.
A small handful of nuts and dried fruit kept in a little baggie
desk or purse is one helpful suggestion.
- Survey the entire
menu before ordering or all of the buffet tables before even
a plate. Think about the options before
how the various foods and beverages (and their portion sizes)
help support and nurture your goals.
- Fill your plate
with low calorie foods like fresh fruit slices and veggies, so
less room on your plate for
foods. Eat with intention, not mindlessly. Eat slowly! Savor
and enjoy your
- Plan for only
one trip to the buffet table. When finished eating, throw your
plate away so you are not tempted to keep “grazing”.
Find some friends or someone new to talk to instead!
is more than “biochemistry”; food is also happiness
and also feeds the soul. Think about which food is your
all-out favorite during this time of year, and choose a small portion
to savor and enjoy. (My favorite food that I only eat
at this time of year? Those sinfully delicious chocolate-mint
don’t have a “healthy” recipe on my
web site for this, but my recipe for brownies
with black beans could be used as
to bring one of your favorite recipes to add to the
buffet table that is beautiful, delicious, and
of my favorite
recipes is Black
People ask for this recipe every place I take it!
the calories from beverages. I limit myself to one 4-6 ounce
glass of red wine per night and otherwise
tea, plain or sparkling water with a slice of lemon
- Continue to
fit in exercise, even if you do not have time to do your routines
as often as usual.
Find a “buddy” for support
to help you maintain your commitment to a healthy
lifestyle during this tempting season.
- Keep your
pantry and refrigerator stocked with healthy
food items, so you can make healthy
or snacks quickly.
you do cook,
be sure to double or triple the recipe so you
have healthy leftovers either in the frig or freezer
for the days
when you are rushed
for time. Have a few healthy and quick meals
in mind with those ingredients
on hand. Here are a couple to consider:
a. Italian Butter
b. Simplest and Easiest Chili Ever!
c. Quick Chicks
d. Tuna Melt Sandwich
If you are still undergoing cancer therapy or recovering from surgery,
here are a few special suggestions:
- Fatigue may
be a big concern and limit your activities this year. Do not
(repeat – do not!) feel guilty about what you cannot do
at this time. Ask friends and family to help with all the traditional
holiday activities such as gift buying, wrapping, baking, sending
of cards, decorating, etc. Or “down-size”. This may
not be the year to host or organize the huge family dinner, office
or family vacation. I remember one year when I was undergoing chemotherapy
during the holiday season. My family and I stayed in our PJ’s
all day on Christmas, took naps between opening the gifts in our
stocking and other gifts, and we also ate simple leftovers instead
a large meal. Guess what – we actually had such a good time “doing
nothing” that “doing nothing” on Christmas Day
became our new family tradition for many many years.
- If you are
experiencing eating problems such as decreased appetite, nausea
or other GI side effects at this time, it is actually a
good idea to NOT eat your favorite holiday foods to avoid the chance
you might experience a bad reaction from one of them and have
that association lead to avoiding that food forever. That would
bad and very sad.
- If your immune
system is still compromised, food safety is a critical issue.
This is a time when hot foods
must be kept hot
and cold foods
must be kept cold, along with impeccable food handling techniques
to reduce the risk of acquiring a food-borne illness.
If a “neutropenic diet” has been recommended because
your white blood counts are very low, check with your own cancer center’s
dietitian for specific guidelines of foods to avoid.
General information is also available on my web site.
b. Foods with eggs, dairy, or mayonnaise should not be at
room temperature for more than 1 hour.
c. In general, avoid salad bars and deli foods and buffets.
d. Meats such as poultry must be cooked to a temperature
of 160-170 degrees.
e. Do not leave that turkey or ham at room temperature for
more than 2 hours.
f. Of course, always wash your hands before any food preparation.
g. An excellent and in-depth discussion of food safety guidelines
is available from the Seattle Cancer Alliance
I hope these ideas have been helpful so that you can truly enjoy the
holiday seasons with feelings of both gratefulness and joy.
to Main QandA
Concerns during Cancer Treatment (related
to side effects)
you provide a list of all chemotherapy drugs called alkylating agents that
may potentially have interactions with antioxidant supplements during chemotherapy?
Diana, I am undergoing treatments for cancer and am not eating well. What
should I do? posted
I drink your soy shake recipes if my oncologist or dietitian has recommended
that I follow a neutropenic diet due to my low white blood cell counts?
5/00, updated 7/01, updated 11/02, updated 8/03
I consume antioxidants during my cancer therapy? posted
12/01, updated 10/02
herbs interact with any of the chemotherapy drugs? posted
4/01, updated 9/02
there any diet changes to help relieve bloating during abdominal radiation?
you have diet suggestions for someone who has diarrhea after
radiation therapy for rectal cancer? posted
1/04, updated 4/04, 11/04, 1/05
it safe to drink green tea if I have a port for administration of my chemotherapy?
you tell me foods to eat to reduce the acid in my urine and pain in my bladder
and ureters? posted
2/04, updated 5/05
can I eat a diet as healthy as you suggest if I need to be
hospitalized for more than a day or two? posted
husband is having chemotherapy treatments and has lost his sense
of taste after one treatment. Are there any foods I can prepare that will
give him some relief?
there a good web site describing the nutrition related side effects from
chemo drugs? posted
I stop drinking green tea during chemotherapy to avoid consuming too many
antioxidants? posted 7/05
can I use the diet recommendations on your web site and in your book
to both increase my intake of cancer fighting foods for optimizing
my cancer recovery and lose weight at the same time? posted
tips do you have to stay on a healthy diet during the holiday season? posted
These questions and answers
are intended to be of a general informative nature. Please consult with
the Registered Dietitian in your cancer center or your health care provider
for nutritional advice that can be individualized to your specific medical