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Wellness

Enjoying the Holidays While Eating Healthy

Originally published November 1, 2021

Last reviewed December 5, 2022

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Illustration of "The Big Question" headline

Two Keck Medicine of USC physicians share easy tips for achieving the right balance at a time of year when it’s easy to overindulge.

It’s understandable to want to enjoy the delicious foods that come with the holiday season. No one wants to feel like they’re missing out!

However, it’s also important to keep eating healthy, which can be harder when enjoying a Thanksgiving feast or festive treats. Two physicians from Keck Medicine weigh in on the Big Question.

Caitlin McAuley, DO, primary care physician, USC Family Medicine

To avoid negative health consequences, a little planning ahead can go a long way.

Before the season is upon us, it’s good to think about which foods or flavors you know you don’t want to miss, and think about how to prioritize those over all of the other excesses that will be around. 

For example, if you’re looking forward to pumpkin pie and spiced mixed nuts, make sure to get those a few times during the season to satisfy the craving, while keeping portions small (about the size of your fist). 

Caitlin McAuley, DO

“One meal won’t ruin your metabolism, but make sure it doesn’t cause you to abandon healthy eating habits altogether.”

Caitlin McAuley, DO

Once you’re full, take a breather and drink some water so you avoid overeating.

Lastly, be kind to yourself. One meal won’t ruin your metabolism, but make sure it doesn’t cause you to abandon healthy eating habits altogether.

Have a healthy meal planned to follow the splurge or cheat meal.

Michelle P. Smith, RD, CDN, CSOWM, bariatric dietitian, USC Bariatric Surgery and Weight-Loss Management Center

One way to enjoy delicious holiday foods in a healthy way is to track what you’re eating.

A food journal is a great tool for helping you stay on target with your goals, recognize patterns like emotional eating and avoid indulging too much in one day. A notebook or your phone’s notekeeping app will do. 

If you’ve eaten too much of something unhealthy, there’s plenty of ways to get back on track. Remember that slip-ups are part of being human, then forgive yourself and move forward.

Michelle Smith, RD, CDN, CSOWM

“Stay as active as you can, too — it not only burns calories but has a host of other health benefits.” 

Michelle P. Smith, RD, CDN, CSOWM

Avoid punishing yourself with fad diets. They aren’t sustainable for most people, anyway.

Stay as active as you can, too — it not only burns calories but has a host of other health benefits. 

Finally, when considering your lifestyle habits, set specific goals. They don’t have to be about the scale. They can focus on water intake, exercise or eating more vegetables.

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Topics

healthy eating
holiday diet
primary care
USC Health
weight-loss management

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