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   Date: 11/25/08

Good Health at the Holidays

Kelly Coffey ’02, owner of Strong Coffey, is a Certified Personal Trainer in Northampton, who provides assistance to many in the Smith community. She will head home to New York for Thanksgiving, where her mother has put her in charge of salad. To help curb the tendency to over-indulge at this time of year, she offers this advice.

Clean Eating, Holiday Style

By Kelly Coffey ’02

With Thanksgiving only days away, many of us have already begun to worry about packing on unwanted pounds. Borrowing from some of principles of the Clean Eating movement, I’ve created some ideas to help you enjoy holiday meals without worry and regret. These ideas are practical and designed to help alleviate feast-related mental turmoil while minimizing or preventing those unwelcome holiday gifts.


  • Set the right tone early. Thanksgiving needn’t mark the beginning of a season-long downward spiral. If you adopt any of the following suggestions from the start of the season, you’ll find it much easier to maintain your physical and mental health through the holidays.
  • Go easy on the punch. Alcohol is known for many things, but inspiring sound decision-making isn’t one of them. Decline that glass of wine to avoid indulging in foods you’re likely to regret later.
  • Make personal connections. If your holiday table is bowing in the middle, it may be hard to keep the focus where it belongs: on the people gathered there. Instead of eating, try grabbing a drink (non-alcoholic, preferably) and asking cousin Peter whatever came of his plan to become a contortionist.
  • Go green. Eat a plate of fresh veggies early in the meal to avoid mindlessly nibbling on high-fat, nutrient-deficient appetizers. The fiber will fill you up making it easier to eat healthy portions of the main course. Make this a regular habit at parties and you’ll have much to feel grateful for.
  • Eat on purpose. Bread baskets and randomly-placed bowls of candy can covertly add hundreds of unwelcome, empty calories to your holiday equation. If you do indulge, put your serving on a plate first. Forgo additional nibbling in favor of saving room for the main attraction.
  • Eat actual food. Take advantage of home cooking by filling up on whole, real foods. Not only are they more nutritious than their boxed and bagged rivals, they also tend to be more satisfying.
  • Stake the place out. Before you dig in, take a minute to survey the goods. If Aunt Zelda brought her prize-winning quiche, you’ll want to know that before you go to town on three-bean salad.
  • Pick sides. No, I’m not telling you to declare allegiance in a family struggle. Rather, after you’ve surveyed the possibilities, choose your very favorite two or three fixins and take reasonable portions of each.
  • Savor every bite. If you’ve adopted even one of these suggestions you owe it to yourself to enjoy whatever you’ve chosen to put on your plate. Ditch the guilt and enjoy the meal!
  • Amass good karma. You’re less likely to reach for seconds if you take some time away from the table. Once you’re done with the main course, rise to the occasion and help with the clean-up. Run plates from dining room to kitchen, name yourself Compost Queen, or roll up your sleeves and get washing.
  • Enjoy your just desserts. Holiday meals are no time to deny yourself what you enjoy most. When the sweet stuff comes out, take your time selecting the item you know you’ll love, then eat it slowly, enjoying the experience.

Bon appetit!


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