Healthy Holiday Eating Tips
- Wednesday, 30 December 2009
Brace yourself, winter upon us, and you’ll be swept away into writing New Years resolutions before you get the chance to say “Happy Holidays”.
The holidays may be stressful, but isn’t this the time we look toward all year? It is almost as though Thanksgiving and Christmas were purposely placed back-to-back as a final exam – get through the season and you’ll pass the year. What grade will you receive? If we were going to be the judge of our own progress, we would probably measure our success in terms of performance: Did you play nicely with the in-laws? Did you stay within shopping budget? Did family/friends/coworkers like their gifts? How did the tree/decorations turn out? Was the meal tasty? Did you eat too much? Did you keep up with your workout?
Not only are holidays a difficult time to watch what you eat and stick to a consistent schedule of workouts, it is harder to be healthy in wintertime. Your body needs more to keep warm and tends to crave heavier foods. There is less sunshine, fresh food, and outdoor exercise options. We have to work a little harder to stay motivated. This year, make your resolution early and find small things to prevent you from overwhelming the scale.
For starters, make time to exercise before or after your holiday gatherings to boost your mood and relieve excess tension. Natural endorphins given off when your heart rate builds will not only make you feel happy, they will also help you eat less. A brisk walk will get your blood pumping and will also be a nice release from the stress of the house. Want something for the whole family? Ice-skating is an enjoyable holiday treat for everyone. Why not take an extra lap around the mall while holiday shopping to burn a few extra calories? While you’re there, pick up a Wii Fit as an early present, and let the whole family enjoy a new fun fitness routine.
Portion control is important to keep in mind as the limitless foods waft past your nose. Remember, the more vegetables and fruits on your plate, the better. They contain large amounts of water, which can help satisfy excessive cravings. Do not deprive yourself of your favorite dish. When we “ban” foods from our diets, we often end up overeating other foods and negating our health conscious efforts. You only get your mother’s famous pecan pie once a year. Have a small piece! Sometimes our focus centers so much on what not to do, we forget that this is a time of celebration. Just add a touch of moderation and you will be set.
Eat when you are hungry… but make sure you really are hungry. You may gage this by waiting to hear/feel your stomach growl, which indicates that your last meal has digested and your body is ready for food. As well, don’t wait until you are ravenous as this can lead to overeating. Leftovers typically sit in the fridge and on the counter causing mindless eating. Try having gum handy so your mouth stays busy. Chew on a cup of crushed ice between meals. Drink plenty of water. You would be surprised at how easily the mind responds to the little tricks we play.
Remember to be conscious of liquid calories. Many times we forget that wine and beer and even eggnog have sugar, syrups, and calories. Those glasses add up! Alternate with a glass of water between cocktails (this could save more than your figure – everyone has a video camera on hand at the most incriminating of times!).
One last key thought, if you are the one cooking the meal or contributing a dish, choose a healthy alternative. There are an endless amount of options. This way everyone can get a taste of holiday cheer that doesn’t get stuck at the hips!