Christmas is one of the top three days of food consumption in the U.S. If you want to maintain a healthy lifestyle, it is all about balance and portion control.

The top three days of food consumption in the U.S. are Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and Super Bowl Sunday. It’s a season of indulgence, a time when holiday parties and events dot the calendar and there just isn’t enough space in the calendar to get in a workout.

Along with those parties and family gatherings is an opportunity to eat great food and drink tasty beverages that quickly add unnecessary calories. The average American actually only gains one to two pounds over the holidays, but that weight often is a permanent addition. As those pounds begin to add up over the course of a few years, it compounds and can lead to other health issues, not to mention obesity.

But a few handy nutrition guidelines can minimize the weight gain and have you in a better position to roll into the New Year with good eating habits already in place so your resolutions aren’t fooled in the first weeks of January.

Regional One Health Clinical Dietician Kristi Edwards shared several tips to stay healthy during the holidays with festive parties in mind.

A healthy diet is about balance and appropriate portion sizes. Choose larger portions of fruits and vegetables and smaller portions of pasta, casseroles, breads, dressings and desserts. Try new foods, and while it’s OK to enjoy the items you love, use self-control when portioning onto your plate.

Navigating a holiday party starts earlier in the day. Eat breakfast and lunch and have a snack at home before the party. It’s important to avoid arriving famished. Once at the party, evaluate all food options before choosing what you put on your plate.

Move and mingle, preferably away from the food table. And avoid mindless eating while having those catch-up conversations with old friends.

In fact, Regional One Health Clinical Nutrition Manager Jacqueline Daughtry, RD, LDN, recommends mindful eating habits. Mindful eaters listen to their bodies and stop eating when full. This is particularly difficult during holiday parties, but ideally your party hosts have at least a few nutritious options to consider.

“We want people to think about if they really are hungry or thirsty,” she said. “Are you eating when you’re actually thirsty? We’re adults so we don’t want to be told, ‘Don’t, don’t, don’t’ all the time. We want our patients to think about their choices. To do that we’re going away from lecturing to focus on motivating behaviors so we can get people to consciously make good decisions.”

Remember to have fun, be merry and don’t overindulge this holiday season.

Part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle is establishing a care relationship with a medical provider. Consider scheduling an annual health screening with Dr. Karen Andrews at Downtown’s Harbor of Health. To make an appointment, call 901-515-4200 or visit