Losing or maintaining weight through the holidays is a matter of making smart food choices.
Tis the season to be jolly, but many people will be tempted to overindulge during family gatherings and festive parties brimming with high-cholesterol, fat-laden foods and alcoholic beverages. Discretion and moderation are essential for the coming weeks, when temptations will abound and daily exercise routines may take a backseat. The festive season lasts for several weeks, so it's important for you to pace yourself. If your schedule is packed with parties and entertaining, it's a good idea to create healthful menus for all non-party meals. Include low-fat foods, and dishes that include nutritious fruits, vegetables and whole grains that may be missed on the party circuit, it's really a balancing act. Keep up a healthy level of physical activity over the holidays, even if daily exercise programs are put on hold.
The holiday season starts with Halloween and ends at the New Year. That is when people face the greatest struggle, and there are pretty good reasons for that struggle. Treats on every corner, parties, days off, schedule changes, vacations, mass media telling you that you have to try this new holiday drink, etc. Let's not forget the cold weather and the fact that you get to hide some of your extra pounds behind sweaters and other winter fashions.
Here are some tips to help you have a happy and healthy holiday season:
1. Keep a Fitness and Nutrition Journal. Rather than writing down specific calorie intake and calorie burn, just keep an accurate account of what you eat and do. Being conscious of your own activites can really help you make healthy decisions.
2. Just say no. The candy in the dishes on the desk, the newest holiday coffee drink, the extra samples in the grocery store. Just say no to it all. Attend the holiday office parties but don't partake in any of the treats. There are way too many special occasions during this time of year to spend your calorie bucks at occasions that are not all that special for you. Pick the events that you want to splurge on a little and keep to the plan.
3. Keep tabs on your alcohol intake during the holidays. Alcohol is the second most potent source of calories. Avoid higher calorie mixed drinks like eggnog, margaritas, mudslides or other sugary mixed drinks-or have one and consider it dessert. Alternate between having alcohol and water to stay well hydrated. Sip slowly and take the time to enjoy your alcoholic beverage.
4. Find accountability buddies who can offer you support and ideas to stay on track through the holidays. Having others in your life who understand your daily struggles makes a difference. With so many things going on during the holidays, you might feel like you are on a treadmill and can't get off. Step back, meditate for a while and calm down. Feeling calmer can help you feel more positive.
5. Don't Go Without Food Before a Party. Knowing that you'll be headed for a tempting meal, may cause you to cut out breakfast and lunch entirely. But this can lead to over-hunger and over-eating when the meal finally arrives. Instead of skipping breakfast and lunch, plan mini-meals such as some fiber rich cereal for breakfast and some fruit and yogurt for lunch. This will help you control your calories later on and keep you within your daily "food budget."
6. Fill Up on Vegetables During Cocktail Hour. Probably the best way to keep your calories in check during the holidays is to focus on vegetables. Vegetables are very low in calories, and offer a variety of nutritional benefits. And consuming vegetables during cocktail hour has an added bonus-the high fiber content of vegetables will quickly give you a feeling of "fullness" and will help you consume fewer calories at the meal.
7. Concentrate on the Company. Chances are, it's been a while since you've seen some of your friends and family, and you'll probably have a lot of catching up to do. Focusing on converstaion during a holiday gathering will make your party "people-centered" instead of "food centered", and will help you avoid excess calories. (Position yourself away from the food during the cocktail hour and after the meal is over).
8. Obey the 20-Minute Rule. Did you know it takes about 20 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain it's full? Well, knowing this rule can help you avoid consuming extra calories at the meal. It's simple: When you feel like taking seconds simply wait about 20 minutes, and then see if you're still hungry. If you're still craving something after the time is up, feel free to grab seconds from some of the lower-calorie dishes.
Happy Holidays from the staff at Alliance Center for Weight Management
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