5 ways our dietitians make their holidays healthier
Gina Van Thomme
It is that time of year. There are get-togethers to attend, presents to wrap and matching pajamas to wrangle family into.
With so much going on, it can be all too easy to abandon healthy habits or vow to do better in the new year. But it is possible to be healthy and enjoy the holidays!
We asked MD Anderson dietitians how they prioritize their health during the holidays – and how we can, too.
Enjoying holiday treats in moderation
Instead of avoiding holiday desserts completely, our dietitians aim to enjoy them in moderation.
“I enjoy the treats and splurge, but ensure I don't go overboard,” says Erin Nelson, a clinical nutrition manager.
Senior clinical dietitian Daxaben Amin pays attention to portion size during the holidays. One way she accomplishes this? Sharing dessert with her husband.
Wellness dietitian Lindsey Wohlford prefers to eat her favorite holiday foods during celebrations and skip the items she doesn’t enjoy as much.
“I never feel obligated to eat some of everything. I enjoy the foods I love and skip the rest,” she says.
MD Anderson dietitians stay active in different ways, but they try not to let the holiday season alter their fitness routines too much.
Clinical dietitian Katie Greenhill enjoys walking outside with her family during Texas’ cooler winter months, while senior clinical dietitian Jessica Tilton keeps up with daily walks and two days of strength training and three days of yoga per week.
Wohlford manages holiday stress by running or exercising first thing in the morning. “If I don't, the day gets busy and I never get to it,” she says.
The holiday season can be full of opportunities to say yes: invites, gift exchanges, bake sales, reunions and the list goes on and on. But sometimes, kindly declining an opportunity can be good for both your physical and mental health.
You can do this in many ways. For Amin, this means saying no, thank you to second helpings of holiday foods after making a plate.
Senior clinical dietitian Maria Petzel approaches holiday nutrition in a similar way with a bit of advice that first came from her husband’s doctor: "It's easier to do a 'push away' than it is to do a push up."
Saying no can also look like setting healthy boundaries. This might mean sticking to one drink on New Year’s Eve, choosing to head home from an event early to spend time with your family, or opting out of an event that doesn’t fit into your schedule.
For Wohlford, it means making decisions that allow her family to focus on the joy of the holiday season rather than the stress.
“I have learned over the years to say ‘no’ to the things that don't work for me and my family and reprioritize what brings us joy," she says.