1. Create a sensible plan ahead of time. Before the holidays arrive, create a plan for incorporating good nutrition and a fitness plan into your daily routine. Evaluate your holiday time and then determine how much time you will realistically be able to devote to working out and eating healthy meals.
2. Don’t skip meals. Eat regularly throughout the day. When you skip meals, you will more likely overeat during your next meal, or be tempted to overindulge in unhealthy foods. Also, don’t go to a party starving. Before you leave home, have something like an apple with some almond butter or hummus, or a protein smoothie. I call this “defensive eating.” Remember to drink a great deal of water the day of the party.
3. Don’t shop hungry. Eat before you leave home and bring healthy snacks with you. This way you won’t be tempted to make unhealthy purchases. Park far away (you’ll probably have no choice) and take the steps instead of the elevator. Incorporate extra walking wherever you can on your shopping extravaganza – then your credit cards won’t be the only thing getting a workout.
4. Bring your own food to the feast. If you are bringing a dish to a party, make sure it is healthy. You can choose wild rice stuffing, baked sweet potatoes, whole-grain rolls, vegan brownies or angel-food cake with fruit.
5. Fill up on the healthy stuff first. Under fill rather than over fill your plate. Start out by eating salad and/or soup; you will be more likely to control your appetite if you have already filled up on healthier options. At your main holiday feast, eat whatever you want in moderation. Take a break in the middle of eating to take inventory of how you feel.
6. Eat smaller amounts of sugary foods and junk food. You can still enjoy your favorite sweets during the holidays if you eat smaller portions to avoid weight gain. For example, eat 1 cookie instead of 3 cookies, or cut a slice of cake or pie in half.
7. Don’t avoid fat. Eating small amounts of healthy fat during the holidays will satisfy your appetite. Use avocados in salads or as a dip. Add walnuts and other nuts or olives to your salads or stuffing.
8. If you booze it, you won’t lose it. Alcoholic beverages pack on the calories, so if you’re drinking alcohol, stick to light beer or a champagne/wine spritzer. Most of the calories from alcoholic drinks come from what you are mixing it with. For instance, a frozen daiquiri has approximately 100 calories/oz. At 12 ounces, each daiquiri has approximately 1200 calories.
9. Stop eating when your stomach feels full. Sometimes, you may be tempted to overeat when you linger by the food table at a holiday party, or if you become bored or restless at certain events. Drink additional glasses of water if you feel like you want to keep eating after you are full, or eat healthy snacks such as fruit or vegetables.
10. Concentrate on your meal while you’re eating it. Focus on chewing your food well and enjoying the smell, taste, and texture of each item. Of course, dinner-party conversation is only natural, but try to set your food
down until you’re finished chatting so you are more aware of what you’re taking in.
11. Substitute the ingredients in your favorite holiday meals with healthier alternatives. For example, use ground flaxseed to replace eggs (1 tbsp of ground flax with 3 tbsp of water replaces 1 egg), use gluten-free flour or spelt in place of white flour and use dairy substitutes such as almond milk in your baking.
12. Don’t forget to exercise! Try to fit in some form of physical activity for one hour each day. Exercise to burn calories, relieve stress, and elevate your endorphins and mood. Take a brisk walk, go for a run, do yoga, dance or bike-ride. Plus when you exercise, you can enjoy your meal “guilt free”. If you can’t dedicate a whole hour at a time, do 10-15 min spurts of exercise throughout the day.
Bonus Tip: If you want to really keep yourself honest (the same size) during the holiday season, wear your most form-fitting blue jeans. Another trick is to tie a string or ribbon around your waist (under your shirt) that will not budge with the bulge. If you have to undo your pants, well…
Finally, take a meditative moment at least once a day and breathe deeply to clear your mind of all the clutter, and be grateful for all that you have.
Enjoy the season, not just the food!
© 2014 Ara Wiseman Nutrition & Healing