Holiday Eating Tips
10. December 2010
Whew! The first phase of the holiday eating frenzy is over. I’m happy to report I got through the Thanksgiving turkey, stuffing, green bean casserole… cranberry jello mold, pumpkin pie and my personal favorite, whipped cream… relatively unscathed. By the end of the weekend the scale revealed an increase of just over a pound!
I don’t know about you, but for me, that’s a major victory! Most of the year, I’m pretty disciplined when it comes to diet and exercise. But like millions of Americans, the annual month-long holiday “eat-a-thon” leaves me feeling bloated and bummed.
At least I’m not alone. According to a recent Weight Watchers report, Americans gain, on average, between seven and ten pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.
Well, NOT THIS YEAR! No way! I refuse to start 2011 feeling flabby and defeated as I try to squeeze into my favorite jeans. This year I’m going to fight!
Want to join me? Here are a few healthy eating tips that helped me through the first round of the holiday eat-a-thon. Give ‘em a try. Then let me know if they help YOU down the home stretch.
1. Exercise. I know this sounds like tired old advice. But the fact is, if you don’t move enough to burn the calories you take in… YOU WILL GAIN WEIGHT. So make the decision to just do it! Use some of that extra time off work… or as a break from lengthy family gatherings to squeeze in a workout. Block out time on your calendar the way you would a doctor appointment or holiday party. Exercise a little during the holidays and you won’t have to start fresh in January.
2. Review your cooking methods. There are so many ways to prepare food more healthfully. Instead of frying, grill your food. If you’re roasting, use low-calorie spray oil (every little bit helps!). Try steaming your veggies to retain nutrients and flavor. Use lower-fat ingredients whenever possible. Most won’t even notice the change!
3. Eat regularly! This one really works! If you’re going to a big party or dinner, DO NOT starve yourself all day in anticipation. You’ll arrive feeling ravenous and end up eating everything in sight. Instead, graze on healthy snacks throughout the day and you’ll be less likely to overindulge.
4. Plan ahead. If you’ve got some big-eating events planned over the holidays… how about scheduling some healthy-eating days in advance. This really works for me. It doesn’t have to be “all or nothing.” With a little pre-planning, you really can manage your diet.
5. Be wary of sugary foods. Rich, sugary foods actually make us crave more rich, sugary foods. Sounds like a cruel joke, but it’s true. I’ve been there… bloated and sick from overindulging, promising never to eat again… then finding myself back in the kitchen picking at leftovers. Don’t get the cycle going in the first place and you’ll have fewer cravings.
6. Stock up on healthy snacks. When holiday food-shopping, toss some healthy stuff into your cart. Munching on things such as raw veggies, low-fat yogurt, hummus and pita bread can keep you from rummaging around in the rum balls.
7. Speaking of alcohol… Don’t forget, alcohol is fattening too! That innocent-looking glass of sparkly wine or bottle of beer has hidden calories… lots of them. Try low-calorie beers and wines... or trick yourself, like I do! Pour sparkling water into a wine glass and it can seem just as festive as the real deal!
8. Be assertive. This is important. Don’t feel as though you have to say yes to every offer of food and drink. If you’re not hungry… just say so. You’re in charge of what goes into your body!
9. Along the same lines… Leave what you don’t want. Or better yet, start out with less and you can always add more. You are not obliged to “clean your plate.” When you feel full, stop eating. Simple.
10. Have fun! Focus on the activities, traditions and relationships that “feed” you emotionally, and you’ll be less likely to focus on the food!
God Bless you… and Happy Holidays!
Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@palomarhealth.org.