The holiday season is almost here, and for many, that means one thing: youâre going to eat. The five-week period from Thanksgiving to New Yearâs presents an almost endless string of opportunities to eat, eat, and eat. Having some simple tips at hand to help you stick to your healthy eating throughout the holiday celebrations is essential.
Itâs nothing new to hear people complain about how much weight they gain over the holidays. Everyone says they put on 10â15 pounds because they overate on a few occasions. Although research has shown that most people put on almost no weight at allâless than 10% of us gain as much as five poundsâit doesnât take away from the feelings of complete fullness and guilt.
Even though you might not actually put on weight over the holidays, there are ways you can feel better about your dietary choices. Much of the food thatâs common across American tables from Thanksgiving until New Yearâs is heavy, creating exaggerated fullness and bloating. And I admit it: like many others, I, on a few occasions, might try to get a little more in me than my stomach would like (though my taste buds are always happy).
Itâs unlikely youâll be able to completely eliminate a binge eating session or a few major holiday meals, so donât stress too much over them. Just remember to maintain a healthy diet the rest of the time, limit unhealthy snacks, and be aware of portion sizes.
Having said all that, keeping your diet in check during the celebrations is easier said than done, especially if youâre counting calories and worrying about what has been added to the yams. So instead of inspecting every last detail of your diet during the Thanksgiving to New Yearâs whirlwind, just follow the four easy tips to holiday eating in this simple how-to guide:
1. Plan Low-Calorie Meals Ahead of Big Celebrations
Planning is essential during the holidays in order to keep your diet on track and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Take a look at your schedule and take account of the events that present the biggest dangers to your diet. If you know youâre likely going to be having a drink or two, some cake, and maybe a heavier meal than normal, prepare yourself by eating lower-calorie meals in the days leading up to the event. This way, when you do indulge yourself at your company holiday party or family Thanksgiving, youâre not adding an abundance of calories to your weekly intake.
2. Have Healthy Snacks on Hand
Another way to stay healthy during the holidays is to pack your own food. Mall food courts are jam-packed during the shopping season, feeding frenzied shoppers as they pick up the items on their gifting list. Generally speaking, the majority of options in a mall food court offer little to no nutritional value, so donât sabotage your weight or health by eating there. Instead, bring your own healthy snacks to fuel you during your holiday shopping expeditions. Consider packing some trail mix, a banana, or whole grain rice cakes; these snacks will keep you energized and feeling fullâplus, theyâll help you skip at least one long line!
3. Stick to Small Portions and Chew Slowly (The best healthy eating tip for those big family dinners!)
Exercising portion control is also a great way to control calories. Take a small amount of all the foods you want to try during your holiday meal, and take your time when you eat them. Enjoy the flavors of the food (after all, itâs usually your taste buds that want seconds, not your stomach). Remember that itâs not a raceâyou donât have to compete with your father-in-law in a speed-eating contest to see who can get through main course and to the pumpkin pie first! Thereâs lots of food and you donât need to eat much of it.
4. Bring the Healthy Food Choices with You
If youâre really concerned about having a healthier option at family get-togethers or potlucks, think about how you can make healthy contributions to holiday parties. Bringing a side dish or a main course thatâs a healthy twist on a traditional favoriteâor even something new that can become a traditionâis a great way to introduce a healthy alternative. Even if nobody else wants it, at least you know youâve got something youâre comfortable with eating seconds of!
Bonus Tip: If you have turkey, remove the skin and eat the breast (white) meat only in order to get the leanest cut possible and limit your fat intake.
The reality is that youâre unlikely to gain as much weight as you think you might over the holiday season. Donât obsess over it, but do try and make the best choices for your health. Consider these ideas above and you might even lose weight over the next five weeks!
Source for Todayâs Article:
Yanovski, J.A., et al., âA Prospective Study of Holiday Weight Gain,â New England Journal of Medicine 2000; 342: 861â867.