Healthy Through the Holidays


Don’t let the holidays be an excuse for putting on excess weight.

I have heard several people tell me, “I am going to change my eating habits after the holidays.” My question is: why wait until next year? Why wait another day, another week or another month? Thanksgiving feasts and holiday parties: The last few months of the year can test even the most disciplined weight watcher. It is easy to get caught up in the holiday treats; I really had to catch myself a few times. If you do not nip it quickly, you will be out of control before you know it.

Managing the overabundance of food that comes with the holiday season?
First, try to remember that the holiday season is about more than just food. Next time you go to a holiday party, take time to admire the decorations. If there is entertainment, be sure to enjoy it. Focus on visiting with friends and family whom you haven’t seen in a long time. Be honest and acknowledge that it would be unrealistic not to indulge in some holiday treats. The key is to do it mindfully, and in moderation. One way to indulge “with purpose” is to make sure you don’t show up to a party starving. You know you’re not supposed to go grocery shopping on an empty stomach. The same is true for parties. Many people make the mistake of “saving up their calories” for the party. But that plan backfires because when we’re ravenous; our self-control goes out the window and we consume way too many calories. Instead, consider eating a healthy snack before going to a party, such as yogurt mixed with high fiber cereal, fruit and nuts or some hummus with veggies.

Once you’re at the party, instead of going on “auto pilot” and digging into every dish, do a quick survey of the treats. Of the less healthy dishes, select two or three you really want to try For the rest of the meal, stick to healthier options, such as crudité, fresh fruit, salads, and lean meats. To help ensure that there is a healthier food option, volunteer to bring some food to a party. Fresh veggies with a low-fat dip, fresh fruit, low-fat cheese and multi-grain crackers, whole wheat pita and hummus, or chilled shrimp are all healthy, easy-to-prepare options.

Social graces around holiday eating
If you’re invited to a holiday meal at someone else’s house, you might want to practice saying “no” before you go. This can be hard for many of us, but remember: just because someone offers you food doesn’t mean you have to accept. You can politely decline saying, “Thanks, it was delicious, but I’m stuffed.” If you feel really guilty, ask the host if you could take home some leftovers to enjoy later.

I’ve let myself down in the past. Why should I believe that things could be different this year?
I think the most important thing is to have realistic expectations about what will happen this year. During the holiday season, it’s especially important to take into account a particularly hectic schedule and proximity to tempting foods. Acknowledge that you will likely need to modify your regular routine. Instead of throwing all healthy behaviors out the window from October to December and swearing to be “perfect” come January, take steps to engage in the healthiest behaviors that you can, given the constraints of the holiday season. If you do that, you should have no trouble surviving the holiday season, and you might even enjoy yourself and actually thrive.

Today is a new day, so start today.

Lavone Strong

Check out the next article ‘What Are We Consuming?’ on my blog
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