Staying Healthy at the Holiday Table



There’s abuela’s pasteles, tia’s tres leche and tio’s coquito. It could only mean one thing – the holiday season is here. But how do you enjoy the most wonderful time of the year and still maintain a healthy lifestyle? It’s all about creating a game plan. 


Don’t Arrive Hungry:

Arriving to a gathering hungry will only guarantee that you will load up on more appetizers than you anticipated. Not to mention, most of those finger foods may not be the healthiest. Before I leave for an event I make sure I have a protein shake or an apple with peanut butter to ensure I arrive satisfied and not starving. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also advises to avoid skipping meals to save up for a feast. This can make it difficult to maintain your blood sugar, allowing you to become even more hungry and likely to overeat.


Distance Yourself:

The worst place to sit is right next to the food table, as it opens the doors to mindless eating. If you know you are a social eater, pop a piece of gum in your mouth to avoid filling up at chip bowl.


Bring Your Own or Call Ahead:

If you are unsure about what will be served, offer to bring your own healthy dish. If the gathering is held at a restaurant or catering facility, call ahead and ask what’s on the menu so you can make your food choices ahead of time. When it comes time to order, try and place yours first to avoid being influenced by the unhealthy options made by others. 



The more you drink, the fuller you will feel and the better food choices you will make. Before a meal I drink 8-16 ounces of water, and another 8 ounces in between every alcoholic beverage.


Veggies Most:

According to Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Ilana Muhlstein, MS, RDN, the more meals that include “veggies most,” the more weight you can lose. Vegetables are not only good for you (unless they’re covered in heavy sauces or butter!), but they make you feel full and satisfied. At dinner (and lunch) veggies should be your fist bite, followed by protein and carbs. However, if you know you will be indulging in dessert and drinks, skip the carbs at dinner. Weigh your options. For example, pass on the second glass of wine so you can enjoy that pastel!


Take it Slow:

Enjoy each bite and take it slow. Focus more on the fun conversations, and you will focus less on the food. If you want to go for seconds, wait about 10-15 minutes for your stomach to relay to your brain that you are full. Drink another 8 ounces of water, and if you’re still hungry, make sure you reach for vegetables first.


Pick One Dessert:

We all know the dessert offerings at the holidays can be overwhelming, but you don’t have to deprive yourself. My rule is pick one portion. If you look forward to tia’s flan every holiday, then make that your pick. Don’t pile on those extra cookies that you’ve been eyeing. Enjoy the flan and call it a night.


Don’t Give Up:

If you get caught up in the festivities and wind up overindulging, don’t throw in the towel. Remember how you feel the next day and learn from it. We all make bad choices. It’s about your ability to get back on track that makes the difference.

 Lisa Mateo is a New York Emmy nominated reporter and TV Host and certified personal trainer. For more health and wellness tips, visit her blog or follow her on Instagram and Facebook.