Holidays present a nutritional nightmare for everyone, including yours truly. Cakes, egg nog, cookies, alcohol, etc. are served at every dinner party, work gathering and family get-together. You can’t ignore it, it’s the holidays and regardless of religious beliefs high sugar foods will be there. So to combat your holiday cravings, I compiled a list of strategies to help you throughout this holiday season. Here are my top 12 strategies to surviving the holidays and keeping your body in tact.
1. Know what types of foods will be where you are going and what you are going to choose to eat.
2. Don’t go to the table saying “you are going to eat healthy,” Don’t draw attention to it. The host will be mad if you are not sampling the food.
Fill the plate with veggies, fruits and lower fat fare. Start eating these foods first so you are not so hungry. Satiety.
3. Don’t say yes to every basket or cookie someone puts in front of you. Say no to Egg Nog!
5. If you are not cooking offer to bring a healthy alternative with you. Eat something healthy to fill you up sooner.
6. Have a healthy snack before the meal, that way you are not as hungry when you eat for real
7. Control stress. Stress makes everything worse.
8. Focus on weight maintenance vs. weight loss during the holidays. If you are currently overweight and want to lose weight, this is not the time to do it. Maintenance of your present weight is a big enough challenge during the holiday season. Don’t set yourself up for failure by making unrealistic goals for yourself.
9. Plan on NOT dieting after the New Year. Anticipation of food restriction sets you up for binge-type eating over the holidays (“after all, if I’m never going let myself eat this again after Jan. 1st, I might as well eat as much as possible now!”) Besides, restrictive diets don’t work in the long run. They increase your loss of lean body mass vs. fat, slow down your metabolism, increase anxiety, depression, food preoccupation, and binge eating, and make weight re-gain more likely.
10. Be physically active every day. Often, students’ busy holiday schedules (or lack of structured schedules) bump them off their exercise routines. Physical activity, especially aerobic activities (like brisk walking, jogging, bicycling, roller blading, and swimming) can help relieve stress, regulate appetite, and burn up extra calories from holiday eating.
11. Choose your beverages wisely. Alcohol is high in calories. Liquors, sweet wines and sweet mixed drinks contain 150-450 calories per glass. By contrast, water and diet sodas are calorie-free. If you choose to drink, select light wines and beers, and use non-alcoholic mixers such as water and diet soda. Limit your intake to 1 or 2 alcoholic drinks per occasion. And, watch out for calories in soda, fruit punch, and egg nog as well.
12. Enjoy good friends and family. Although food can be a big part of the season, it doesn’t have to be the focus. Holidays are a time to reunite with good friends and family, to share laughter and cheer, to celebrate and to give thanks. Focus more on these other holiday pleasures, in addition to the tastes of holiday foods. The important thing to remember is balance and moderation. It’s OK to eat too much once in a while. Just relax, enjoy the holidays, and remember what the season is all about.
Maintain perspective: Overeating one day won’t make or break your eating plan. And it certainly won’t make you gain weight! It takes days and days of overeating to gain weight. If you over-indulge at a holiday meal, put it behind you. Return to your usual eating plan the next day without guilt or despair.