Eating Strategies to Successfully Navigate the Holiday Season
The holiday season is just round the corner and for many people it is time to celebrate with family and friends. Unfortunately, this is also the time of the year when people over eat and gain weight. On average, this holiday binge eating leads to an extra gain of one to three pounds each year and while it may not seem much, over a lifetime it can easily add up to 20 plus pounds! Eating during the holidays does not have to lead to an enlarged waistline. This can be avoided by focusing on a healthy balance of fun, activity, and food. Following are some simple tips for healthy eating during the holiday season.
BE REALISTIC: The holiday season is NOT the time to stress about trying to lose weight. Make it your goal to at least maintain and to try avoiding any gains. You’ll need to plan ahead of course, a little more food here, means an extra walk or time on the treadmill there. It’s always about balance.
DON’T SKIP MEALS: We are often tempted to do this during this time since we know the annual family holiday party at grandma’s house is coming up or the office potluck is just around the corner. Make sure you continue to eat small healthy meals throughout your day, as eating frequently (making good choices as you go along) keeps you from being tempted to overindulge. Always have a light snack (veggies and a low-cal dip or something small, but high in fiber) before heading to your next celebration, will fill keep you from tackling the buffet upon arrival.
PROVIDE HEALTHY CHOICES TO YOUR GUESTS: Most of us have at least one opportunity to entertain others during the holidays, so make sure you provide some great choices for your guests. Veggie trays with a choice of low-fat or low-cal dipping options (hummus is a wonderful choice), flavorful crackers with high fiber, and low fat cheeses are great too. Don’t forget a tray of cut fresh fruits with a low-fat yogurt dip for those with a sweet tooth.
GET LOTS OF FIBER: Fiber is an excellent way of helping you feel full quicker and longer without adding too many extra calories. It also helps to prevent heart disease and other harmful health conditions.
PACK HEALTHY FOOD FOR TRAVELING: We all know airport food is not cheap and often not the healthiest, but you can plan ahead when traveling. Pack some healthy snacks for your trip; this keeps you from being starved when you reach your destination. If you need something more substantial, you can opt for a salad (always better with some protein like chicken or tuna) once you are on your way to your gate, to eat in-flight.
EASY ON THE ALCOHOL: The holidays of course are THE time of year to raise your drink in toast to another year past and hope for what lies ahead; however, it’s a sneaky way to add lots of extra calories. If you must indulge, keep your serving size small and limit the number of drinks you choose. You can always find some lower calorie options of most of your favorite drinks.
IF YOU ARE FULL....STOP! This might be the hardest thing to do this time of year because everything tastes so good. Decide in advance that when you feel full you will stop (and be mindful of when you reach that full feeling). You may end up leaving some food on your plate, but it really is okay. If you have always been a member of the “clean plate club” then start out with a smaller plate. Eat what you want but perhaps just a taste of several different things. Don’t forget to throw some veggies or fruit on your plate too. And no cheating, don’t give in to the temptation to refill that “small” plate.
MAKE SMART CHOICES WHEN COOKING: When you are preparing holiday meals and treats, opt for half-fat or lower fat choices. It’s usually hard to tell much difference with regard to flavor and taste. You ultimately win by creating a lower fat/lower calories creation. And don’t forget spices for extra zing!
DECIDE WHEN TO SAY YES TO HOLIDAY TREATS: If you plan ahead and adjust your eating on days you know you are headed for a celebration with great food, you can say yes to some of your favorites. Eating light and making good choices throughout the day can help offset the more tempting choices you might make when you arrive at the next celebration.
STAY POSITIVE: We spend so much time beating ourselves up. This is not the time of year to indulge yourself in that pastime. It’s easy to get off track, but IF you plan ahead and decide to focus on the joy of the time spent with family and friends, you’ll find yourself on the other side, ready to face a new year and back on track with your healthy eating and fitness plan.
Thanks for reading, happy holidays!
Editor’s note: Kim Farmer of Mile High Fitness & Wellness offers in-home personal training and corporate wellness solutions. For more information, visit www.milehighfitness.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.