For the next two months, most individuals are inundated by holiday merriment and seasonal celebrations with festive food in abundance. The festivities should not be hindered by total restriction, but should be viewed as an opportunity to practice the art of moderation and avoid any unwanted holiday weight gain. Mindful consumption is key when faced with the temptations at holiday gatherings. Here are some tips to help prevent weight gain and overindulging this season.
Exercise!- Get in a good sweat fest the morning of a day of holiday eating. After dinner or between courses, take a walk with family and friends to keep your body moving. Be sure to add in an extra workout or two on top of your typical regimen during the season to help counteract additional consumption.
Never Arrive Famished- Arriving at a gathering starving is setting yourself up to make poor dietary choices. Make sure that you have a snack one to two hours prior to the meal that includes fiber, protein, and fat. This can be a hard boiled egg, brown rice crackers with nut butter, vegetables and hummus, or a handful of unsalted nuts.
Game Plan- Go in with a plan! Tell yourself in advance what you will indulge in or taste and what foods will prioritize your plate. Aim for roasted vegetables, salad, and lean pieces of protein as your key players, and two scoops of mashed potatoes or stuffing or a small piece of pie as your indulgences.
Have a Partner in Crime- Select someone to be on your team to help remind you that you should probably swap the second glass of wine for water or forgo the potato gratin.
Avoid Those Festive Cocktails- Eggnog? Mulled wine? Spiced cider? Sounds like a calorically dense headache-inducing bev fest. Stick to the basics. Have A glass of wine or one drink made with a clear spirit and sparkling water. Or keep it simple with a vodka or tequila on the rocks with lemon or lime. Have a full glass of water before you drink, and alternate alcoholic beverages with glasses of water.
Bring the Crudités- Be the bearer of the healthy option. Do not count on your host to have healthy alternatives for you. Consult with your host and see if it is OK to bring a "healthy" dish. Consider freshly cut veggies and homemade dip or be responsible for a side dish like a fiber-rich grain salad or roasted vegetables.
Don't Feel Deprived- It is holiday time and you do not have the opportunity to eat pecan pie, latkes, and marshmallow covered sweet potatoes year round. Allow yourself a small portion (two tablespoons) of a decadent side, so you do not feel completely restricted and deprived.
Move Away From the Buffet- Do you really need to be hovering over or chatting near the buffet or food station? No. Have your conversation elsewhere and avoid temptation and mindless eating.
Balance Your Plate- Fill your plate with nutrient dense foods such as roasted vegetables, salad, lean turkey, and fruit chutney, and avoid calorically dense foods like butter-laden mashed potatoes or sausage-studded corn bread stuffing.
Learn to Say No- You don’t really need to try every hors d'oeurvre that goes your way at a holiday party do you? Take a look at the selection and prioritize what is worth "splurging" or tasting.
See Ya Later Leftovers- If you are the host of a party or holiday gathering, send your guests home with leftovers. If a guest complimented the mac and cheese, make sure they get some to go. Get the festive foods out of your house so that you won't indulge in late night kitchen raids or days of unhealthy leftovers.
Listen to Your Body- Pace yourself when you are eating, chew slowly, and take sips of water between bites. If you are not satisfied after one plate, allow your body 20 minutes to digest and then consider going back for more. If you do go back, aim for more veggies and fill yourself up on nutrient dense foods.
The holidays are a time to enjoy yourself with friends and family. If you splurge, do not beat yourself up. Get right back on track with healthy choices and clean eating and do not forget to exercise, despite your party-hopping schedule.
Happy Holidays from the Crunchy Radish