A Playbook for Holiday Eating

By Vadel Shivers, M.S., R.D.

During the holidays, eating can be challenging for cancer patients. Concerns about weight gain or weight loss can cause anxiety especially during treatment and recovery. But with a game plan, you can score at the dinner table. Here are a few tips that can help you take guess work out of holiday eating.If you are concerned about preventing weight gain:

  • Start small. Use a smaller plate for meals to help ensure you keep portions of food in check.
  • Value veggies. Vegetables offer an assortment of phytochemicals and antioxidants which can help protect your immune system. Aim for at least three servings daily.
  • Look for low calorie liquids. Choosing water or beverages without added sugar can help keep your appetite under control and provide a sense of fullness. This can help prevent overeating.
  • Pursuit of fruit. Eating fruit will help curve cravings for sweets without all the added sugars, fats and calories. Fruit is a wonderful source of vitamins and minerals not in pill form.
  • Fit in Fiber. Simple appetizers and side dishes that are made with high fiber foods can provide a sense of fullness and may be lower in calories.

If you are concerned about preventing weight loss:

  • Decadent dips. High calorie fruit and vegetable dips can be a quick source of calories without appearing overwhelming. Dips flavored with certain spices may wake up your taste buds.
  • Pack in protein. Nuts, cheese cubes and deviled eggs all can provide protein and some fat. Seek sources that are more natural and have minimally been processed.
  • Full bodied beverages. Eggnog can provide calories and can help get you in the mood for the holiday season. Sparkling fruit juice can provide a good non-alcoholic substitute for champagne and can awaken flat taste buds.
  • Crunch on crackers. Whole grain crackers can provide a crunch and some fiber. Because of their size, they may not visually be overwhelming and can encourage eating.
  • Snack on schedule. Eating small amounts of food frequently through the day can prevent skipping meals especially if you don’t have the urge to eat. Timing meals and snacks can help you meet nutrition requirements and goals.