Keeping the Holidays Healthy
Tips for a healthier holiday season:
Many people experience weight gain of 1 to 2 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Years. For others, it can be as much as ten pounds. Research shows that for most people, this extra weight never goes away after the New Year. This Holiday weight gain is considered a major contributor to obesity. Holiday parties, the office cookie tray, even temptations in your own kitchen can wreak havoc on waistlines. It doesn’t have to be that way, if you carefully plan.
Most experts agree that it can be perfectly healthy to indulge in a treat or two over the Holiday Season. Moderation is the key. If you know that the very taste of a Christmas Cookie will send you down a slippery slope and end in binge-eating, don’t go there. For most, however, a seasonal goodie can actually be healthy. One thing to bear in mind is to not starve yourself or skip meals in anticipation of treating yourself. That usually results in overeating.
There are other things to consider when limiting your Holiday treats. It is so easy to stray off your healthy diet plan during the Holidays. With a batch of cookies an arm’s reach away, it’s easy to eat poorly during the holidays. And when we overindulge on treats, our waistlines aren’t the only things that suffer. Sweets can also wreak havoc on our mood. According to Elizabeth Somer, RD, author of Eat Your Way to Happiness, when stressed, people are more likely to choose sugary carbohydrates that deliver a quick shot of energy to the system. Unfortunately, these same foods cause us to bottom out just as fast — leaving us irritable and exhausted. Instead, choose complex carbohydrates, like whole-grain bread, combined with protein, such as turkey or low-fat cheese, to keep your mood on an even keel.
Here are a few things you can do to stay in control this Holiday.
- Hydrate. Drink plenty of water throughout the day and especially before heading out to a party.
- Don’t skip meals on the day of a party. Eat small, mini-meals that are filling and nutritious. Make sure you are including high-quality protein with your small meals. Include complex carbohydrates and watch the fat intake.
- Limit alcohol. You can quickly consume your daily calories in beverages if you aren’t careful. Sip water if you need to have a beverage in your hand.
- Never go to a party hungry. Have a healthy snack prior to heading out the door.
- Exercise. The holidays can be a busy time. Find the time to fit in a daily workout. When short on time, choose some form of your favorite cardio.
- Practice mindful eating. Savor each bit. Eat slowly, chew thoroughly and enjoy your senses.
- Wait before heading back for seconds. Allow your food to digest and settle. It takes approximately 20 minutes for your stomach to register that it is full.
- Sleep. Make sure you are getting adequate rest. Research proves that when we are sleep-deprived, the stress hormone cortisol is released at an increased level, which makes us feel hungry, even if we are full.
- Use a smaller plate. It will hold less, so the end result is, you will eat less.
- Fill up at the Veggie Tray. Not only will you feel fuller, you will be doing your immune system a favor.
- Choose protein. Include plenty of high quality protein with each meal. Protein keeps you feeling full, longer.
- Step away from the buffet table. Socialize away from the food. It will only cause you to nibble mindlessly.
- Bring a Healthy Dish. If asked to bring food to a party, make it healthy and low fat. You will at least have one smart option.
- Bake Healthy. There are many delicious recipes available for everything from appetizers to desserts that are not fat-laden and sugar-loaded. By making simple recipe swaps, you can create a healthier dish which will benefit everybody.