UF/IFAS Extension Offers Tips for Healthy Holiday Eating

ORLANDO, Fla. – It’s the holiday season, a time of year when most of us tend to overeat. A University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension faculty member says we don’t have to deprive ourselves to enjoy the holidays without overeating.

“Holidays are a time to enjoy everything, but in moderation,” says Virgilia Zabala, a registered dietitian and an agent with UF/IFAS Extension Orange County. “The important thing is to go in with a strategy to avoid overeating.”

Zabala says you should:

  • Savor your meal: “There has been lots of research on mindful eating, which is taking the time to savor the texture and flavor of your meal. People who follow mindful eating tend to not overeat,” Zabala says. “When you are paying attention to what you are eating, you tend to stop when you are full and have had enough. You are following your body’s cues.”
  • Be engaged: Because it is the holidays, be present and enjoy conversations with those around you, Zabala says. “When we park in front of the TV for hours and play on our phones, we tend to indulge in mindless eating,” she says.
  • Eat beforehand: People tend to skip meals to save up for the big meal, says Zabala. “When we do this, we eat too much at once, eat too many calories and don’t feel good afterward,” she says. “Just eat smaller portions so you are not starving yourself before the big meal.”
  • Fix a healthy plate: Half of your plate should be fruits and vegetables, a quarter should be meat, and a quarter can be starches, Zabala says. And, drink plenty of water, she says.
  • Save some treats: “Yes, it’s a time to enjoy those treats, but don’t overindulge in one day. Save some for the next day,” Zabala says.
  • Get moving: “We are blessed in Florida to have great weather, so go for a walk, ride a bike or play catch,” she says. “The exercise will help your body burn off some of those goodies.”

“The holidays are a great time to get together with family and friends and enjoy good meals,” Zabala says. “Just remember to slow down and enjoy the banquet set before you.”


The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make that knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. With more than a dozen research facilities, 67 county Extension offices, and award-winning students and faculty in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/IFAS works to bring science-based solutions to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents. Visit the UF/IFAS web site at ifas.ufl.edu and follow us on social media at @UF_IFAS.


Posted: December 10, 2018

Category: Health & Nutrition, UF/IFAS, UF/IFAS Extension, WORK & LIFE
Tags: Eat Healthy, Extension Orange County, Holiday, News, Orange County, UF/IFAS

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