Enjoying the Holidays, Weight-Gain Free

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While the holidays are a time to celebrate with family and friends, for many of us, it’s also a time to kick our healthy eating to the curb until January 1st. How can you enjoy the holidays while remaining weight-gain free? Here are a few ideas.

• Always start with a healthy breakfast. It kick-starts your metabolism and is a great time to load up on fresh fruit, healthy grains and fiber.

• Dress strategically. Wearing fitted clothes provides a subconscious reminder to keep from overindulging because they’ll feel snug when you start to overdo it, versus clothing that stretches right along with you.

• Don’t save your calories. Saving your calories for a big meal? DON’T. Being overly hungry leads to overeating every time. Having a light snack of 100-200 calories before a party will keep your judgment intact and will allow you to make better decisions.

• Try the clutch trick. When heading out to a party, bring a clutch bag instead of one with a shoulder strap (or tuck the strap in the bag). By holding your purse, you’ve instantly eliminated a free hand that could be grabbing high fat/calorie appetizers.

• Pre-plan your drinks. Will you limit your drinking to one or two drinks? Alternate between drinks and a non-alcoholic beverage? Drink a wine spritzer to cut the amount of wine you’re drinking in half? Choose whichever plan feels best and stick with it.

• Preplan your travel snacks. Be sure to pack some healthy snacks and drinks for your trip. Chances are whatever you pack will be healthier than what you’d find along the way.

• Eat balanced meals. By eating balanced meals of healthy carbohydrates, fruits/vegetables, protein and some fat, you’ll feel more balanced and will be less likely to binge later on.

• Get enough sleep. A lack of sleep will encourage you to search for more energy, usually through sugar or caffeine. Get enough sleep to avoid a sugar-induced energy surge… and crash.

• Restaurant ordering. Since your trip may involve more dining out than usual, here are a few healthier menu words to look for: baked, broiled, grilled, steamed, roasted, seasoned, poached, seared and red sauce. Here are some words that signify a food is heavier in fat or calories: fried, breaded, battered, crispy, cheesy, buttery, creamy, stuffed and white sauce.

• Be a food snob. Only eat what’s special for that holiday and shun foods you can have on any occasion. By having what’s significant to the holiday and allowing for a taste of the special foods served only during that time of year, you’ll feel part of the celebration without going overboard.

• Don’t feel pressured to eat everything. Just because it’s there doesn’t mean you have to eat it. Need a mantra? How about, “It looks better in the garbage/on the table than on me!”

• Have a strategy ready for food pushers. “I’ve been looking forward to your delicious cookies and I’m saving room for a taste,” or “I’m stuffed now but can I wrap it up and take it with me for later?” They’ll feel that their treat is so special that you want to find a way to eat it – while you can choose to do whatever you like with it once you leave.

• Skip seconds. Sometimes you just need a non-negotiable rule like “no seconds unless it’s water or vegetables.” Period.

• Drink lots of water. Besides having so many other health benefits, water helps to fill you and slows down your eating.

• Beware of stress eating. When you’re eating, determine what’s driving your desire to eat. Is it because of something you just saw, heard or felt? Or, is it because your body is physically hungry? Learn to tell the difference and try to respond to the physical need only.

• Suggest an after meal walk. Instead of all that sitting around after a big meal, suggest an activity to get everyone up and moving.

• Slow down/pace yourself. Whether you put down your fork between bites, chew thoroughly, take a drink between bites or any other strategy, taking longer to eat helps you feel more satisfied with less.

• Use smaller plates. We want to see our plates full, so just by choosing a smaller plate, you’ll get the same effect with much less food.

• Bring a healthy dish. By bringing a healthy dish, you can at least be assured that you’ll have something to eat if everything else being served is loaded with fat, sugar and calories.

• Exercise. While you’re even busier than usual with holiday shopping, parties, etc., one of the first things to go in order to find more time may be your fitness program. Make the decision that exercise is a priority. It may be the only “me” time you have during this busy holiday time so hold firm.

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    Paula is a highly qualified and experienced nutrition counselor on the staff at Village Green.
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December 2012
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