As the holidays come upon us, so does the temptation to eat too many calorie laden foods. Here are a few tips to help keep you from falling too far off the scale this year.
No matter what your background or beliefs are, when it comes to the Holidays, food always seems to play a big role in almost every cultural celebration. One of the best ways to keep overeating in check during the holidays, is to first acknowledge and accept that there will be a lot of food temptations and there’s really no way around that. Once you’ve recognized that fact, the next thing is to arm yourself with an attitude by which you’ll approach enjoying holiday food, but without overdosing on it. And starving yourself all day before a Holiday Meal almost always ends up with disastrous results too, so that’s not the answer either!
Here are a few tips and ideas for Holiday Eating Guidelines, that might help keep your diet on track all the way through to New Years.
Ditch the Total Deprivation Mode
I find it works best for me if I adopt the “everything in moderation” rule, as opposed to creating a mindset where I forbid and put absolutes on things that I deprive myself from eating. I don’t know how it works for you, but I find if I totally deprive myself of something, it makes me crave it more than ever.
Educate Yourself a Little Bit
Okay, this one can actually be a little bit painful to do, but it can also be an eye opener for you, not just during the holidays, but also throughout the year. Pick a couple of your favorite holiday food indulgences and look up the calories and nutritional food values for each of them. Armed with this knowledge, you can then pick and choose which indulgences you will allow yourself and which ones you should pass on. I bet you’ll be shocked when you find out how many calories and how much sugar are in that one tiny sliver of pecan pie.
Allow Yourself Some Trade-offs
Let’s say you’re going to someone’s home who you know is a fantastic cook, so it’s likely that you’ll not pass on eating the better part of whatever they prepare. If you know this is the situation well enough in advance, you can moderately trim your daily caloric intake by 100 calories a day for 3-5 days in advance of the event. Or another way of allowing yourself a trade-off for eating that amazing meal, would be to moderately increase your activity level a few days before and after allowing yourself this indulgent meal. Adopting new habits, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking to the market or store for small errands or riding your bike for 30 minutes, are all good activities that will help boost your metabolism, which will benefit you year round anyway. Plus, these kinds of activites will also strengthen your knees and increase your heart rate too.
Use the “Cut it in Half” Rule at Restaurants
This is a rule I routinely implement for myself at restaurants where the servings are often too big anyway. Let’s say I want to order that amazing Turkey Dinner fully loaded with gravy, potatoes, dressing and cranberries, so I allow myself to order it. The trick comes into play when my plate arrives at the table, so before I even take one bite off the plate, I cut the entire meal in half and box up one half to take home to eat the next day. You might surprise yourself to find that you really don’t need to eat everything that’s put on your plate, plus you’ll have the bonus of enjoying the second half of the meal the following day.
Out of Sight, Out of Mind
Mindless nibbling from bottomless bowls of party snacks can quickly lead you to unconsciously ingest dangerous amounts of empty calories. So instead, serve yourself on a small appetizer plate and then move completely away from the food or buffet stations. Place your focus on the conversations with people at the party, rather than on the food or drinks that are on the table. And if you’re at a Holiday Hors d’oeuvre Party, try to choose raw veggies or hummus options if they’re available and limit yourself to eating only 2-4 calorie laden appetizers if possible. And don’t forget to keep keep the alcohol to a minimum and drink water in between.
Quench your Thirst with Low Calorie Beverages
It sounds simple, but be sure you’re always well hydrated by drinking plenty of water before arriving at any holiday celebration. Avoid drinking too many cocktails or glasses of wine as alcohol and mixers contain a lot of empty calories, as do sodas and too many fruit juices. Make it a rule to never drink alcohol on an empty stomach, since the alcohol will be absorbed too rapidly on an empty stomach and increase your likelihood to overindulge. Before drinking any alcohol, be sure to always eat a small snack or some kind of protein by nibblng on a few nuts or a small slice of cheese. This will cause your stomach to empty slower and will help slow down the absorption rate of alcohol.
Take Some Time for Yourself & Try to Limit Your Holiday Stress Level
I know this is easier said than done, but the bottom line is to remember that the holidays are supposed to be about being thankful and getting to spend quality time with friends and family. So start off this holiday season by not overloading yourself with too many unrealistic goals and stay focused on the simple and important things about the holidays that make them meaningful. Keeping your stress level down can also help keep you from nervous and unconscious overeating. Happy Holidays!