The holidays are a time for celebration. Yet for so many Americans, trepidation brews. What causes this? To some people they feel that the celebration comes with tempting foods that will sabotage their healthy diet – and they usually do, if planned strategies are not in place.
Some time ago, a study conducted by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the National Institute of Diabetes and the Digestive & Kidney Diseases declared this theory to be false “ that many Americans tend to gain between 5 and 10 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.” Notably, the same study did show that the long term effects of gaining even one pound each winter can add up to a substantial, incremental increase in body weight over time resulting in obesity and other at-risk diseases in the future.
A few special holidays lie ahead. Don’t attempt to lose weight during the holidays. It is unrealistic to try to lose the weight at that time. The more sensible approach is trying not to gain weight. Focus on the celebration you plan with the family, friends, and enjoy the food. Choose wisely and don’t become obsessive about avoiding tempting holiday favorites. You are only setting up yourself to become emotional, unhappy, or even depressed.
Make a plan, and learn about the food groups. Know the foods in the groups that are packed with nutrients, yet low in calories that are good for your waistline and your overall health. Start by making smart and healthy food choices when you shop for foods for your meal preparation for the home, parties, and getting-together and at restaurants.
A good habit to practice is to eat protein –rich snacks before you go to a party or once you get there. A handful of nuts, shrimp, turkey, salmon, chicken based appetizers will fill you up and you won’t be tempted to eat as many high fat and fried items. Look for raw vegetables, with salsa, heart healthy guacamole, tofu spinach spreads, hummus dips, accompanied with whole grain flat bread or crackers. These are all good for you.
Put these appetizers on small plates instead of large dinner plates. Nibble on a few nuts, seeds or dried fruit combination, and or fresh fruits. Chew slowly. Enjoy the flavors, textures of your food selection and the people with whom you are celebrating. These few strategies can help you manage your food intake to keep you in control. From that perspective, you can select small tastes of various items rather than a full serving of everything you see. The key points to remember are:
o Eat more of the healthier foods.
o Lower, and take less of the high-fat, high calorie
o If you were invited to a potluck celebration,
bring something healthy that you enjoy and eat
more of what you bring.
o Don’t deprive yourself of desserts, split a piece
of cake or cookie with someone.
o Eat slowly and savor the flavors of each bite.
If you are planning to eat a rich dessert the day of the celebration, keep your fat and carbohydrates intakes low the rest of the day to compensate.
Keep your alcoholic beverages and drinks under control. Drink a lot of water and fewer alcoholic drinks. You can switch with sparkling water with lemon, berries or mint. Red Wine is a healthy choice and is good for your heart. However, you can alternate
sparkling water between the first and second glass of red wine when you are at a party.
Keep moving – make time to fit in some exercises during the holidays. Use your lunch break and go for a walk. You can also split up your 30 minutes of exercise into three ten-minute or two 15 - minute intervals dependent on your schedule. The importance of exercise allows you to burn more calories. You will raise your blood sugar levels so you won’t feel very hungry. Exercise is also a good destressor. It enhances your mood and puts you in the celebration mode for the holidays.
Try these strategies and think about ones that you can create for yourself and your family in making your holiday spirited and joyful. After all, you know yourselves best. “You are creative and complete.”
I believe that knowledge can be empowering and the more we understand our bodies and the mechanisms that cause illness, the more committed we become to getting better. Through my Hope Nutritional Services, I am devoted to educating you about your body, how it works and how to nourish, heal and nurture it.
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