At this time of year, as we light the candles, deck the halls and make merry it may seem impossible to stay on a path of healthy eating. You can enjoy the holiday season and still fit into your pants with these simple strategies.
- Set a goal to maintain your weight. You want to enjoy your family and friends and not be stressing about losing weight now. Let’s concentrate on not gaining, rather than losing. You have to be kind to yourself.
- Journal your food. It is so easy to let this go amid the frantic activities of the holidays, but this is so important now. You still want to be focusing on what you are eating. Everything you put in your mouth matters.
- Never go to an event hungry. Before you go to a dinner, have a protein bar or a shake. Make sure that you have a good balance of protein and healthy carbohydrates. If you do this before you arrive, you will be less likely to overindulge, especially the appetizers.
- Exercise the morning of an event. If you exercise the morning of an event, you will be mentally setting yourself up for success. The endorphins will kick in and carry you through the day – knowing that you have worked that hard to maintain your weight and be healthy may help when you stroll past the buffet table.
- Ratchet up the intensity of your exercise. If you typically exercise for 30 minutes, try exercising for 45 minutes. If you typically exercise three days a week, try exercising 5 days a week. If you think of this as a “just for 4 weeks” change in your routine, it will be manageable. Four weeks go very quickly.
- Eat mindfully. Eating mindfully will help you control the amount of food you eat. Eating mindfully will enable you to enjoy and savor the foods presented. When we eat quickly, we often don’t even taste the food and just keep eating. Remember that eating slowly and thoughtfully is a great compliment to the chef.
- Remember the 3 bite rule. You can have 3 bites of anything – not, however, 3 bites of everything! At this time of the year, we see so many high-calorie foods – rich sauces, dips, cookies, pies, – beautifully presented. You should view this as a game. Look at the whole meal and be selective. Choose one appetizer and thoroughly enjoy your 3 bites. Choose one dessert and slowly savor your 3 bites.
- Study what’s on your plate. A continuation of the mindful eating – before you start to eat your meal, thoughtfully look at your plate. It should be ½ vegetables and fruits, 2/3 protein, and 1/3 carbohydrates. Avoid rich sauces. If you can’t easily avoid them, remember the 3 bite rule.
- Beware of alcoholic beverages. Alcoholic beverages pose a double threat – they are typically high in calories, and if we overindulge it is easy to lose control and over eat. Limit your consumption of alcoholic beverages to one or two, and then switch to low calorie or no calorie drinks – water, coffee, and tea.
- Don’t focus on food. Remember that the holidays are so much more than food. They are wonderful opportunities to be with family and friends. We need to refocus on the people and not on the food. We should approach each event with thoughtful “people” goals – I want to spend time with Aunt Sue to find out how her dog is, I want to be sure to talk to Gary and get caught up. By diverting our attention away from the food and focusing on the people present, we really will be savoring the best of the holidays.
Hopefully, these strategies will carry you through the holiday season and will enable you to have one of your best holiday seasons ever!
Happy Holidays and best wishes for a healthy and prosperous New Year!