The holiday season is fast approaching, and with it comes increased stress and an abundance of tasty temptations. It seems inevitable that you will gain weight between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. This year use these practical ideas for enjoying favorite holiday foods without packing on the pounds.
- Stick to a regular schedule. The holidays can be a very hectic time. It is important to continue to eat at normal mealtimes. If you are going to be at an evening party, make sure to eat a balanced, lighter lunch and an afternoon high-fiber snack to stave off being hungry when arriving at the festivities. Don’t use the excuse, “I’ve starved all day!” Your body doesn’t see it that way.
- Create and stick to a plan. Before arriving at a party, decide to eat one mini-serving of everything, or skip certain foods that you can get at other times of the year, such as chips and dips. If you workout, make a commitment to stick to your workout regime. Not only will exercise help you burn calories, it also helps you deal with stress.
- Beware of beverages. That holiday “cheer” can be loaded with a tremendous number of empty calories. Limit your consumption of alcoholic beverages to 1 – 2 drinks per day. This also applies to punches and sodas. Drink more water, club soda or low calorie beverages. Having a drink in your hand at a party keeps a hand too occupied to reach for more food.
- Be a social butterfly. The holidays are a time to gather with the ones you love. Set your mind to companionship rather than consuming food. Talk more and eat less. Make it a point to have a conversation with at least 10 people individually.
- Fuel up frequently. With the rush and stress of the holidays, you need to plan to carry snacks and water with you when you are out shopping or running errands. Too often we get caught out and realize we are hungry and will reach for the most convenient snack or drive-thru. A good rule of thumb is to plan on eating a small meal or snack (around 150 to 200 calories) every 2 to 2 ½ hours between larger meals.
- Practice portion control. First of all know what the size of a portion is (Go to the following website to look up portion sizes: http://hin.nhlbi.nih.gov/portion/servingscard7.pdf). Holiday buffets offer an endless variety of tempting foods. This can lead you to unknowingly consuming far more calories and fat than your daily allowance. When going through a buffet line, opt for the smaller salad plate rather than the larger dinner plate. Be selective on your choices. Choose favorites that only come around this time of year. If dessert is your weakness, sample only one dessert per party.
- Practice mindfulness. Before loading up your plate, take a tour of the buffet so that you make better choices. Savor the foods you eat and the conversations you have with other guests. Eat more slowly and be aware of when you are satisfied and feeling full. Put some distance between yourself and the food table. This discourages mindless munching.
- Balance. Balance out those high calorie foods by including more healthy fare, such as dark green, leafy salad, pear or orange wedges, walnuts. Add cranberries or apples to your stuffings. Don’t eat the crust on your pumpkin pie, add a dollop of whipped cream instead.
Good luck and Happy holidays!