I am taking a temporary pause from my Superfoods series to discuss the looming importance of mindful eating, which is essential to consider during the holidays.
At my clinical job, the message of "maintain, don't gain" during the holiday season is being directed at employees to encourage diet continuity. The holidays are not the time to try and restrict yourself, crash diet, or loose a quick 5 pounds. It is a time for you to maintain control over temptations and to learn how to allow yourself some holiday indulgences, but ensure that you are mindful about what you are eating and never forgo your workout regimen. The holidays could even be your opportunity to "up" your workout to counteract that Thanksgiving pumpkin pie.
For many, food is the essence of the holidays and holds both significance and ritualistic importance. I do not believe in total restriction, but value the idea of balance in prevention of any weight gain during the holidays. The focus should be on maintaining weight and mindful consumption when faced with the temptations at holiday parties and festivities.
Here are some tips to help you maintain and not gain during the holidays:
Never Arrive Famished- Arriving at a holiday party starving is setting yourself up to make poor dietary choices. Do not "save” yourself all day long in order to go buck wild over the hors d'oeurvres. Unless the theme of the party is "healthy food", you cannot count on your host to make healthy/nutritiously-minded decisions for you. Set yourself up for success by making sure that you start your day with a lean protein and a complex carbohydrate-filled breakfast. This could be oatmeal mixed with superfoods and fruit. Fat free plain yogurt with some homemade granola, nuts, and seeds or egg whites with whole grain toast.
Avoid Those Festive Cocktails- Eggnog? Mulled wine? Spiced cider? Sounds like a calorically dense headache-inducing beverage fest. Stick to the basics. Have a glass of wine or one drink made with a clear spirit and sparkling water or club soda with a splash of fresh juice. Keep your water glass nearby as your main beverage. If you feel water is too "basic" for a party, have some sparkling water with a splash of fresh juice and sliced fresh fruit.
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 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 stations? No. Have your conversation elsewhere and avoid temptation and mindless eating.
Balance Your Plate- When building your plate at holiday functions, focus on making half of your plate full of vegetables and salad. A quarter of your plate should include your starch/grain. Try to fill it with complex carbohydrates like a quinoa or bulgur wheat, brown rice, or roasted potatoes. The last quarter should be filled with your protein, whether it is turkey, ham, tofu, or beans. Aim for the leaner cuts of meat, such as turkey or chicken breast, pork loin, sirloin, top round, or Canadian bacon. Remember to trim any visible solid fat or skim the fat from any stews or soups. If you are not satisfied after one plate, allow your body 20 minutes to digest, than consider going back for more. If you do go back, aim for more veggies and fill yourself up on nutrient-dense foods.
Learn to Say No- Do you really need to try every hors d'oeurvre that goes your way at a holiday party? No. Take a look at the selection and prioritize what is worth "splurging" or tasting.
The holidays are a time to enjoy yourself with friends and family. Do not stress out about trying to lose weight. Focus on maintenance and allowing yourself some indulgences within reason. 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 Holiday's from The Crunchy Radish