We all love the holiday season! Families gather for fun and festive meals. The one problem is that many of the traditional, comfort foods we crave are usually also rich in carbohydrates, fat, and calories. As a result, this time of year can be especially challenging for weight control. Here are a few strategies to help make the best choices possible during this special time of year.
- Eat regular meals and snacks. It is so tempting to skip meals with the idea that you’ll “save calories” for later. This plan always backfires. If you arrive at a party famished, you are more likely to make poor food choices. Always keep your protein shakes handy so that you will always be prepared.
- At a party or get together, the rule of ‘always eating your proteins first” is your best rule of thumb. Protein is essential for preserving muscle mass, minimizing hair loss, and is necessary for all parts of your body. Since the amount of food you can consume is so limited, you must make it count by always eating your proteins first.
- Offer to make healthy contributions to the holiday meal. Traditional food does not have to be drenched in butter or oil to be tasty. Modify your recipes to reduce fat, sugar, and calories. Cooking sprays, butter sprays, low sodium chicken broth, Greek yogurt, and sweeteners such as Splenda can all be substituted in recipes to keep foods flavorful and more healthful.
- If you’re invited out, offer to bring a vegetable or fruit platter to enhance their meal. Your host will appreciate it and this will ensure that you’ll have food you can eat as well.
- At a party or buffet, remember to use a small salad size plate if possible and select protein and vegetables first. Fill your plate once, enjoy and savor every bite, and don’t contemplate seconds.
- Limit alcohol. Alcohol not only provides “empty” calories, but it also lowers your inhibitions so that you will not have as much control when making food choices.
Beware of high calorie, holiday themed beverages such as eggnog, pumpkin lattes, and caramel apple cider. These types of beverages are very high in calories and will also leave you craving more sweets.
- Exercise. Set a goal of 20-30 minutes of physical activity daily. Try to get the whole family involved and make it fun. Consider going on a family walk or bike ride, take part in a “turkey trot”, or play a game of touch football after the big meal.
- Remember to pace yourself. Eat slowly and chew foods thoroughly. Try cutting foods into small pieces and putting your fork down between meals to help you achieve this.
- Keep tempting foods out of sight. Lower your risk of temptation by not having your “trigger” foods around. Give away leftovers either to family or guests or consider giving to a homeless shelter.
- Remember the holidays are about more than food. Focus on enjoying the company of your family and friends.
- Finally, be good to yourself. If you end up overindulging despite your good intentions, remember that tomorrow is another day and an opportunity to move forward and to get back on track to healthful eating and regular exercise.
If you usually bake cookies or brownies to give as gifts, the temptation to “pick” on these foods will be great. Consider giving nonfood items as gifts. Most people are also concerned with holiday weight gain and would probably appreciate receiving a gift card rather than sweets.
Happy Holidays to Everyone!