It’s just around the corner… before you know it, here it comes.
Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza; the parties, the dinners, the cocktails, Oh my! What’s a health conscious eater to do? Well, as they say in the Boy Scouts, always be prepared, and confronting holiday eating is no exception. Use the following tips as your strategic plan to help guide you through the holiday festivities happy, healthy and free of any uninvited extra pounds.
1. Don’t Skip Meals
Starving yourself before a party or get-together increases the odds that you will overeat when the festivities begin. Best strategy if you’re going to a party is not to skip meals; just keep the rest of the day’s food selections smaller and healthier.
2. Stay in Control
Don’t let the abundance of foods get the best of you. Keep track of portion size during meals and when in doubt, just look to your hand. Your fist is equal to a cup of grains, your thumb equals one tablespoon of dressing or oil, and your palm is equivalent to a serving of meat or fish. Whatever is left on the plate, leave it or take it to go.
3. Fill Up on the Good Stuff
Still hungry? Fill in the blanks on your plate with steamed veggies and fresh salad or start your meal with a nice bountiful vegetable soup.
4. Slow Down
Put your fork down between bites; take a moment to savor the tastes and to enjoy. Intermingle eating with delightful conversation. This will help you to eat less and feel full and satisfied sooner. It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to receive the message your stomach has been satisfied.
Do a trade-off with exercise. Eating more during the holidays can be partially off-set by a moderate and daily increase in physical exercise. Try a 15-minute brisk walk twice a day. Not only will it help burn off the extra calories, it will help burn off some of the holiday stress as well.
6. Careful Cooking
Preparation of the meal and desert offerings can often result in even more unhealthy calorie consumption than the meal itself. When baking holiday cookies and other treats, avoid over-sampling your baked goods by having other “sweets” like diced apples, pears, and strawberries set up near the cooking area.
7. Let Them Eat Cake!
So who am I to argue with Mary Antoinette? Have the cake. Eating is one of the truly delicious and wonderful pleasures in life so once in a while, it is fine to indulge. However, the condition is that you enjoy it, taste it, savor it, eat it slow and enjoy every bite. Be mindful of the indulgence; don’t just inhale it! No guilt, no regrets, just delicious bliss… but no seconds!
When you are indulging in that cake, share it. That way, you can both enjoy the desert and each of you will consume less fat and calories.
9. Wait to Lose
During the holidays, make your goal to maintain your weight – not to lose weight. Don’t put extra pressure on yourself. Many times this will backfire and the well intentioned weight loss plan once thwarted will result in a rebound weight gain. Just try to maintain.