Does the word “holidays” conjure up images of cookies and pies, gorging yourself on turkey and all the trimmings, and consequently packing on the pounds? It doesn’t have to!
Healthy eating can be a realistic goal during the holiday season; however, this goal requires careful planning.
Do not arrive at holiday parties hungry! Most people will overeat if they skip meals. Our bodies are designed to eat every four to five hours. Skipping meals to “save calories” for party eating will set you up for failure, because your appetite will be keen. Eat a light meal, or drink one of our shakes, before a party and you will arrive in control of your appetite and will actually eat less.
Make time for exercise during the holidays. Even the best plans leave room for error. Exercise will help burn off some additional calories. How about planning a family walk or hike together before the holiday meal? Keep in mind, however, that you have to walk approximately 30 minutes at 4 miles per hour to burn off one small slice of pie.
Limit your alcohol intake to one or two drinks. Calories from alcohol add up very quickly, particularly if you are consuming mixed drinks. Try drinking water or sparkling water between alcoholic drinks — this can help keep you hydrated as well as consuming less alcohol and empty calories.
Be a social butterfly. Holidays are a time to be sociable. Spend time enjoying the company of others. The more you talk, the less you will eat.
Do not wear loose-fitting clothes during the holidays. If you can’t feel your waistline, you’re more likely to overeat.
Fill up on vegetables and fruits. They are loaded with vitamins, minerals and disease-fighting phytochemicals, and are low in calories. The fiber in these foods may help you feel full and leave less room for high-calorie, tempting treats.
Look up some lowfat versions of your favorite holiday recipes. For example, use lowfat milk instead of whole milk when making mashed potatoes. Applesauce can be substituted for oil when baking.
Try new side dishes instead of traditional ones. Serve baked sweet potatoes or grilled asparagus or steamed artichokes as a nice new side dish (use a non-fat dip for the artichokes or just sprinkle with lime juice).
Limit your indulgences. Choose the one food you will indulge in and enjoy it while taking small portions of the other offerings.
Fiber is your friend. Your good friend. Add in fiber throughout your day as fiber keeps you feeling full. Try adding beans to soup or making pumpkin soup or pancakes (pumpkin is great source of fiber as well as vitamins A and C).
Attitude is everything. If your holiday meal is a late lunch or early dinner, start off the day with a high fiber shake made with fruit. Get away from the attitude of: “Oh well, I’m going to blow it anyway today, so I might as well start the day off with sausage and high fat, high calorie egg nog…”
Swap this for that:
* Green tea with a few drops of stevia instead of coffee.
* Drink sparkling water sweetened with root beer flavored Stevia instead of diet soda.
* Try almond milk instead of dairy milk and soy milk.
* Avocados, nuts and seeds are great alternatives for cheese on your salads.
* Use lettuce instead of bread for sandwiches and wraps.
Many of my patients find they enjoy the holidays more – and feel better both during and after – when they make sensible choices like these suggested above. Happy holidays from Dr. Ridley and Emily at LiveWell!