The holiday season is upon us once again. It’s a fun time for both family and work because everyone is set on having a good time. Family gatherings, office parties and neighborhood festivities bring people closer together to relish in the good lives we have.
The holidays can be difficult because food is an important part of holiday parties. Thanksgiving wouldn’t be the same if there were only pupus. And a Christmas a party without a lot of good food? What’s the use.
But for many of us the food aspect of the holidays is not a subject for celebration. If we’re “good” we may deprive ourselves of the great holiday grinds that don’t come around very often and if we’re “bad” we’ll over indulge and be resigned to gaining weight.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Here are some tips to help you celebrate this holiday season without turning it into a “good/bad” relationship with food.
Have a Plan
• Make a plan. We all have appointment books or calendars that keep us on track, so use it to remind yourself of where, who and what foods you will be around during the holidays. Maybe aunt Rita makes an unbelievable cheese cake, or Delores at the office always brings her chocolate filled chocolate cake with chocolate frosting to the office party. Figure out what foods are special to you and accommodate them.
• The holidays are not a good time to try dieting and thinking your going to diet afterward the New Year will put you on a track of overindulgence. Think of weight maintainance rather than weight loss. Maintaining your weight during this time is a success in its self so don’t set yourself up for failure by trying to loss weight.
• Don’t skip a meal before a party. If anything eat a healthy snack and drink some water. If you attend a party famished you will more than likely overeat and through any plan out the window.
• Remember to enjoy yourself this holiday season and enjoy eating great food. If you do gain a pound or two don’t worry you’ll naturally lose it when you resume your normal eating.
At the party
• Don’t overfill either your plate or your stomach. Watch your portion sizes! Eat anything you want, but keep the portions of your favorite indulgent holiday foods down. Fill your plate with healthy, balanced foods like fruit, vegetables and lean meats.
• Eat slowly and enjoy the food. These are foods you love to it, so take your time and savor every bite. It takes 20 minutes from meal time for your brain to understand that you’re stomach is full. The slower you eat the easier it will be to know when you’ve had enough. Make yourself one plate of food, eat it slowly, and then eat a mint or chew on a stick of gum.
• Don’t drink too much. Becoming too merry at a holiday party will impair your judgement about food while also increasing your appetite. Also, drinks with a lot of sugar will give you empty calories that increase the possibility of weight gain.
• If you’re bringing a dish to the party, try to prepare a healthy dish that you like. You’ll know there will be at least one “safe” dish that you will be able to enjoy and fill up on.
• Don’t hang around the buffet table. It’s easy to munch absentmindedly on finger food when conversing with other party goers. And all those lovely holiday treats will be constantly calling your name if you stand with in ear shot. Stand away from the buffet table and all those excess calories will stay where they belong – on the table.
• Don’t eat just because everyone else is. It can be tempting to eat along with everyone else, but if your not hungry don’t do it! Instead, get yourself a glass of water with lemon or a low calorie drink to keep your hands and mouth occupied.
• Eventhough holiday parties may center around good food, it’s really a time to celebrate the season with friends and family. Spend time enjoying the conversation and catching up with family members you don’t get to see very often instead of stressing about your appetite. Relax, enjoy the season and be kind to yourself.
Between the Parties
• It’s ok if you over indulge during a time of weakness. Don’t let one day ruin your plan to maintain your weight. It takes days and days of overeating to gain weight. Just return the next day to the plan you staked out before without any judgement or guilt.
• Reduce the fat in your own holiday recipes. Use olive oil instead of butter, bake instead of frying, use non-fat yogurt instead of sour cream or use egg substitutes instead of eggs.
• Keep on exercising. The holiday season is a busy one, but exercising is an important part of physical and emotional health. Don’t lag on your weekly exercising routine because you need all the positive energy you can muster to deal with increase stress the holidays can bring. If exercising doesn’t fit in well that day, do only half the workout instead of all of it.
• Avoid indulging in high fat fast-foods when your holiday schedule become too tight. Pre-plan healthy meals that can be easily taken with you or quickly heated up.
• Relax. Find a small opening in your schedual where you can just chill out and relax – even if it’s only for a short while. 10 – 15 minutes of time for yourself where you can breath and think of nothing else but feeling comfortable goes a long way toward slowing your day down and making health eating choices.
• Sleep. Without a good nights sleep you will be less efficient and more irritable the next day. Dragging yourself from appointment to appointment will put you in a draining mode that will result in eating “whatever” when meal time comes along. This time of year you need your sleep more than ever, so get a solid 8 hours and enjoy the days ahead!
The holiday season is a great time for us and our families. Just remember to enjoy it a little at a time and the pit fall of overindulgence will be easily avoided.