The holidays are meant to be enjoyed with friends and family, and from Thanksgiving through New Years there are plenty of opportunities to do just that – and most of them involve an abundance of delicious food and drink. But if we allow ourselves to lose control completely during this time, there is a high risk that we will continue to eat unhealthily long after the holiday season has gone. That doesn’t mean we have to deprive ourselves during this most special time, just that we need to have a plan to navigate it.
- Don’t go to an event hungry. Although you might think you are “saving” calories by not eating earlier in the day, it is much harder to resist the high-fat, high-calorie party fare if you are famished and your blood sugar is low. Instead, eat healthfully throughout the day, and have a high-fiber snack with some lean protein before you go to help curb your appetite.
- Bring a healthy dish to share. See Healthy Holiday Cooking Tips or Linda Cherry’s Recipes for some ideas.
- Don’t station yourself right next to the buffet table, and take a plate each time you want to take food. This discourages mindless munching and grazing. • If there are foods you really enjoy, go ahead and take them, but just take small amounts of each, and only take one serving. That way you won’t feel like you have missed out on your favorites, but you won’t overdo it.
- Include lean protein, some healthy fat and high fiber foods to help fill you up – a plate filled with simple carbohydrates will leave you hungry for more.
- Pass on foods that you can have all the time or that are similar to the favorites that you are taking (for example, if you love stuffing, take that and skip the roll).
- As always, avoid or go easy on sauces, gravies, dressings, foods that have been fried, sautéed, creamed or stuffed, and processed meats and cheeses.
- Control your sugar intake. When you binge on sugar, you crave more and more and your body slows down. Try to limit yourself to one or two of your favorites, and enjoy each bite.
- Pay attention to what you drink as well. The calories and sugar in punches, juices and ciders can quickly add up, and eggnog is also quite high in fat. Drinking alcoholic drinks, which are also high in calories sugars and sometimes fat, can also lead to less control over what you eat. Drink plenty of water and limit yourself to one or two selzers, “lite” or sparkling drinks.
- You don’t have to clean your plate; once you have had what you want, leave the rest.
Throughout the Season
- Exercise regularly to keep your energy and metabolism up. (See Warm Up Your Winter With Exercise for winter exercise tips.)
- Keep healthy snacks with you (in your purse, car or bag) so you don’t have to stop at the food court, convenience store or drive-thru while shopping for Christmas gifts or after waiting in long lines at the post office.
- Continue your regular healthy eating habits at all other meals, and save your indulgences for the Christmas dinner, parties and special events. How you eat at the majority of your meals is more important than whether you overdid it on just a couple of occasions.
- Don’t keep holidays treats around the house if they are too hard to resist.
- Maintain your nutritional supplement program. Take a full spectrum daily complex such as Basic Nutrient Support, and add specialized formulas as needed. If immunity, stress, blood sugar, digestion or cardiovascular health are of particular concern for you , it is especially important to be diligent about those specific supplements at this time of year.
Enjoy the season!