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  • Scripps Health

Top 3 nutrition tips for the holidays using mindfulness

Integrative medicine dietitian offers ways to keep weight off

For most people, dieting is difficult — regardless of the season. But the holidays pose special challenges for people who are trying to maintain or lose weight. Food is frequently the centerpiece of celebrations — meaning temptation to eat more is going to be there more frequently.

“People often may gain weight or find it difficult to lose weight during the holidays,” says Cathy Garvey, a registered dietitian at Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine.

“In addition to being surrounded by big meals and high calorie treats, family dynamics and financial pressure can make the season stressful. People may turn to food for comfort,” she says.

To keep your scale stable over the holidays and beyond, Garvey recommends using mind-body techniques to curb overindulgence.

“This involves bringing your complete attention to the present moment in a non-judgmental way,” Garvey says. “When applied to diet, mindfulness is about enhancing awareness of food choices and eating behaviors. When you eat slowly and mindfully, you can enjoy the flavor of food and its texture. Listen to your body cues. Before you feel so full, you can’t eat another bite, stop."

To help you get through the holidays without putting on too much weight or any at all, Garvey offers these three timely nutrition tips.

1. Eat a snack before a holiday party

To help you curb your hunger so you eat less at the party, snack on low-glycemic carbohydrates and lean proteins, such as apple slices with natural peanut butter, raw veggies with hummus or nonfat unsweetened yogurt with berries.

2. Eat lots of salad

Start your meals with a large salad topped with lots of veggies and low-fat or fat-free dressing, or a broth-based soup filled with vegetables. “Request olive oil and balsamic vinegar instead of a creamy dressing,” Garvey says.

Studies have shown that eating salads or broth-based soups prior to a meal results in fewer calories consumed during the meal.

3. Limit alcohol

Each 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1 ounce of hard alcohol contain roughly 100 calories.

So, enjoy a drink, and then switch to sparkling water with lemon or lime. Steer clear of high calorie drinks, such as egg nog, frozen margaritas and hot buttered rum.

“You may also avoid the temptation by going to events that do not center on drinking,” Garvey says.

Healthy Life is brought to you by the physicians and staff of Scripps Health. For more information, or for a physician referral, visit or call 1-800-Scripps.

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