Let’s face it – holiday time can wreak havoc on your health goals. It doesn’t have to, though. Paying attention to a few key points can help you sail right through to the New Year. Won’t it be nice not having to start the new decade with regrets and a long list of resolutions! Here’s to enjoying the season AND feeling great in the New Year.
Before the Holiday Party
- Don’t “save up” your calories by eating very little the day of the event. This strategy usually backfires. You will probably become ravenous and are much more likely to over-indulge!
- Be sure to eat a high fiber and/or high protein breakfast that keeps you satisfied for a long time. Good choices include steel cut oats and fruit or a vegetable frittata and whole grain toast
- Before going to a party, have a light snack, such as a cup of soup or a salad or apple and nut butter. It’s easier to pass up sone of the richer foods if you’re not that hungry
When you’re at the Party
- If food is served buffet-style, survey the offerings before getting in line. Make your decisions about what you’ll take ahead of time. Make one trip to the buffet!
- Only take foods you really want. Try to very your choices to include some high protein foods, lots of vegetables and a small to moderate amount of starches. Minimize or avoid fried foods and those in rich sauces
- Don’t expect to cut out all holiday favorites – that’s unrealistic! Instead, choose small amounts of those foods that you just can’t resist! Be sure to balance them with fruits or vegetables on your plate.
- Spend less time by the food table. Focus on talking to friends and family. Make it a point to visit with everyone you know at the gathering. Shift your attention towards socializing with others rather than eating.
- Sit down when you are eating if possible. This can help eliminate mindless grazing.
- Pay attention to what you are eating and the speed at which you eat. Try to eat slowly and savor the flavor – especially favorite holiday foods that you may not find other times of the year. Avoid eating fast – it usually leads to over-eating
If you drink alcohol:
- Be aware that alcohol is absorbed quickly on an empty stomach. This can lead to an increase in appetite and make healthier food less appealing. Have something to eat before imbibing.
- Drink a glass of water or club soda between alcoholic drinks
- Opt for lower calorie beverages and mixers- light beer, seltzer mixers, wine spritzers. Drinks with juices, sodas, sour mix and tonic water all add about 100 calories per drink. A cup of Eggnog with brandy can top 400 calories or more.
Other Holiday Tips
- Keep easy to fix foods on hand when time is short: sandwich fixings, bean soups, pre-cut fresh vegetables; pre-cooked proteins or canned wild salmon
- Keep up your exercise program as best as possible, even if its only once per week
- Be sure to allow yourself to get enough sleep and relaxation. Being over tired and over-stressed can make it harder to follow a healthy lifestyle
- Plan some non-food get-togethers such as a skating party, which promotes a fun way to get exercise.
- Remember, the holiday season is six weeks long. There are many days in between the parties to eat healthfully!