Tips For A Healthy Holiday

The holiday season is quickly approaching.  It is a time to celebrate with your family and friends, but unfortunately for many, it becomes a time for overeating and gaining weight.  According to the National Institutes of Health, holiday eating can result in an extra pound or two gained every year…but the holidays don’t need to mean weight gain.  Try to focus on socializing, making new friends, and having fun with your family and friends.

Remember…do not skip meals.  If the party is during lunch, remember to eat a healthy breakfast followed by a mid-morning snack.  If the party is after work, enjoy a protein-packed lunch like grilled fish or chicken with a large colorful salad and then try to have a mid-afternoon snack.  Remember, if you are not too hungry when you go to a party, it will be easier to avoid overeating.

Be sure to survey the buffet before you fill up your plate.  Reach for a smaller plate and choose your favorite foods and skip your least favorite foods.  Try to remember to include fruits and vegetables to keep your plate balanced with lean protein.  Even remember that eating a salad before your meal may help you eat fewer calories overall.  Try to remember to eat slowly and savor each and every bite and be in tune with your hunger ques and try to eat only until you are satisfied, not stuffed.  Also, remember that before you go back for seconds to wait 10 minutes to see if you are really still truly hungry.  Even try leaving the table once you are finished eating so that you will not be tempted to continue eating even if you are not hungry.  If you did find yourself overeating at one meal try to go light on the next.  Keep in mind that it takes 500 calories per day above your normal/maintenance consumption to gain one pound…so it is impossible to gain weight from one piece of fudge.  Even consider splitting a dessert with someone, you can cut the calories and fat in half!

Be careful with beverages.  If you like to drink eggnog consider filling your glass with half to three quarters parts of low-fat or skim milk and only one part eggnog so that you can still enjoy the eggnog flavor but without all of the calories.  If you want to enjoy a cup of hot chocolate try to have it made with low-fat or skim milk and without the whipped cream and go easy on the toppings, use only five mini-marshmallows instead of the large ones.  If you have hot chocolate regularly, try to limit the toppings to only once in a while since they can pack a lot of calories and added sugars.  To reduce the amount of alcoholic beverages consumed, consider alternating between an alcoholic beverage and a large glass of lemon water or sparkling water to limit the amount that you drink.

If you are baking this holiday season, try to use some smart substitutions.  Instead of butter, substitute equal parts of unsweetened applesauce.  Use low-fat or skim milk instead of whole milk or heavy cream.  Instead of using only white flour, use half white and half whole-wheat.  Use extracts like vanilla or peppermint to add flavor, instead of sugar or butter.

And remember to stay active.  Exercise helps relieve any stress that is felt during the holidays and can also prevent weight gain.  Try to walk 10 or 15 minutes twice a day with your dog, or better yet go sledding with your children, ice skate with your spouse, or entertain out-of-town guests by playing a round of basketball.

Enjoy the holidays, incorporate healthy recipes into your holiday meal, and plan a fun activity for the family, and don’t restrict yourself from enjoying your favorite holiday food!  Happy holidays!