Avoid These 7 Deadly Sins at the Holiday Dinner Table

By Kimberly Maloomian, RD, LDN

Top Amateur Rider and registered dietitian Kimberly Maloomian shares with TPH her health tips and recipes for feeling your best this holiday season. 

1. No exercise. Remember that exercise not only helps with weight maintenance but  with mental and physical health and GI and metabolic regulation. Help your GI tract get running by going for a jog, bike ride, or exercise class each morning during the holiday season. This will help decrease belly bloat after nights of partying.

2. Hydration- or lack thereof. Properly hydrated people will feel better overall than those who are dehydrated. Symptoms of dehydration include headache, dry mouth, constipation, poor body temperature control (excessively hot/cold), dry skin, and dizziness. Water is the best liquid for staying hydrated, soda is worse (both caffeine and carbonation are dehydrating). Keep mineral water on the table of dinner parties so that people can drink it along with alcohol during the meal, this will also help slow alcohol consumption, which leads to further dehydration.

3. Party-grazing. It is easy to get to a party and graze for hours on appetizers or cheese trays, but that will add many more calories to your day. Try to wait until you are hungry and make a plate of food to eat from whatever is appealing to you on the buffet table. Making yourself a plate mimics eating a meal and helps to keep you from picking after you finish. A plate of food will cause you to feel full and satisfied. If you graze, you never feel full and so it is difficult to stop eating.

Hot chocolate might look delicious and keep you warm, but be careful of those calories! Photo: Betsy Kelley

4. Liquid calories. Calories from drinks can add up very quickly and wreak havoc on your waistline. Most people do not have ‘just one drink’ at an event and thus it is easy to consume a day’s worth of calories just from beverages. Common holiday beverages are:

  • Wine: 120 calories/5oz serving (192 calories/cup)
  • Hot cider: 120 calories/cup
  • Eggnog: 225 calories/cup
  • Hot chocolate: 194 calories/cup (400 calories if you get it from Starbucks!)
  • Hot Buttered Rum: 316 calories/cup

Side note – if you drink alcohol, remember it is also a muscle relaxer. After drinking alcohol you will be able to consume more food before feeling full – double whammy!

5. Overfilling your ‘gas tank’. Our stomachs are our gas tanks and overfilling them can cause physical discomfort and mayhem for your internal systems for hours as your body tries to digest food and burn through the energy you have given it. One night of eating too much can affect how you feel for 24-48 hours. If you found something on your plate overly delicious, ask to take home a doggie bag. Hosts are always happy to give away leftovers and it will keep you from being tempted to over consume at that moment.

6. Going to bed full. This goes hand in hand with overfilling your gas tank. As a regular practice, going to bed full will most definitely increase your pant size, but one night will not cause this problem. It will, however, cause other unpleasant side effects like reflux, loud digestive noises, inability to get comfortable, disruption to REM sleep and sometimes even nausea. Try to give yourself 90-120 minutes before going to bed to decrease risk of these unpleasant side effects.

7. Dessert mishaps. Desserts can play a couple tricks on you. One issue is the sugar content of dessert items, which tend to be loaded with added sugars (important differentiation from naturally occurring sugars found in fruits/vegetables/dairy). Added sugars can put inches on your girth. We are all trying to avoid that! During the holidays when people might also be overindulging in alcoholic beverages, however, added sugars cause a different problem. Blood glucose levels and insulin secretion are effected by alcohol intake. When you add sugar to that mix, you can start to feel horrible within minutes with nausea, excessive thirst, and an overwhelming feeling of exhaustion/inability to keep your eyes open. This is a result of unstable blood sugar levels, and it is a situation that is hard to overcome.  Typically, drinking 16-20 oz water and taking a break from the party will help, but it could take hours for your body to regulate blood sugar levels enough for you to feel better. Instead of dessert (especially if you have been drinking), opt for a cup of herbal tea to curb cravings for sweets and help to re-hydrate you after your alcohol intake. Some teas, ginger or with licorice extract, even help with digestion and reflux if you suffer from those ailments. To end the meal with this digestive only makes sense!


Now CLICK HERE to read what you can do stay healthier, with Kimberly’s article, “Holiday Recipes to Keep the Family Healthy & Happy


Kimberly S. Maloomian, RD, LDN, has been the lead dietitian at The Miriam Hospital’s Center for Bariatric Surgery (R.I.) for the last seven years. She also consults for the State of Rhode Island’s Early Intervention program, which serves underprivileged and disabled children ages 0-3. She serves as the public policy coordinator on the board of Rhode Island’s Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and has been invited to speak at Metabolic Surgery conferences across the country on the topics of nutrition and eating behaviors. An active competitor in the amateur-owner and adult amateur hunter rings, as well as in dressage at levels 1 & 2, she works with the U.S. Hunter Jumper Association as the co-coordinator for the WCHR Northeast Region and as a member of the Hunter Breeding Task Force’s Sallie B. Wheeler Hunter Breeding Championships subcommittee.