Holiday eating a challenge? Strategize

Tips for managing the parties and dinners are provided by area fitness and health specialists.


If you had some nutritional mishaps and errors in judgment during Thanksgiving dinner, you're not alone. The holidays pose challenges to diets everywhere.

Personal trainer/exercise therapist John Kerwin, owner of the Fitness Center, recommends staying focused on exercise and diet: not a strenuous reduction diet but a healthy, balanced diet.

Kerwin said to keep track of what you're doing and eating. "Keep a log, notes of what you are eating in the course of a day."

You know when you're overdoing it, so Kerwin encourages you to eat what's actually going to help you rather than hinder you.

"It's the love yourself diet," he said. "On days when you overeat -- and there will be some -- just come back to your log."

At any point in the here and now, you can stop the self-deprecating behavior and get back on track.

"You know when you feel good, embrace yourself."

The whole idea is to treat yourself nicely. Nurture yourself like you would a dear friend.

Part of the equation is exercise, according to Robin Sherrod, adult fitness program director at the YMCA.

If you want to take a walk after your holiday meal, by all means, do it. "It's important to stay active. Try to stay in your same routine."

If you usually include exercise in your day, don't forget about it for the holidays. Sherrod also suggests using a smaller plate to make your portions look larger.

If the holidays disrupt your exercise regimen, consider a family walk or activity, suggested Christy Druffel, health and wellness director at the YMCA.

"If you're going to have a holiday meal, take a walk before and then after. Do something active. If you're traveling, pack small exercise tools in your bags, like bands. Or be sure to take walks."

Both Druffel and Sherrod suggest eating a healthy snack before going to a holiday party to take the edge off before being tempted by foods at the party.

Druffel also said it's the overall amount of food and calories you eat that contribute to weight gain.

"If you overeat, everything gets stored as fat. It's a misconception that we gain 7 pounds during the holidays. I read that we really only gain 1 pound, but the key is that it's not lost during the next year. Weigh yourself. Don't let it creep up on you."

Balancing and paying attention to what you're eating matters, according to Michele Hanford, Fitness Facilities director at Whitman College.

"It's really important to have a lot of protein and to pay attention to portion control. Stick with what you know."

Don't eat out of the bag or the serving bowl, select your portion in a smaller dish, emphasizing protein rather than carbs and fats.

Hanford's strategy for the holiday meal: "If you're at dinner with a lot of socializing, eat all the protein first. When everybody goes for seconds, then choose the carbohydrates; have your salad second. Then you're better off to wait two or three hours and then have dessert.

"You're only supposed to have 200-400 calories every two to three hours.

"Then end your day with protein, you'll feel fuller. It helps with the body's restoration and people don't tend to overeat meat. It's such a balancing act."

Karlene Ponti can be reached by calling 509-526-8324 or by e-mail at


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