The holidays bring joy and feasting… often on sweets and other rich food.
This seasonal shift typically causes lots of irregular eating that often means more empty calories… we become malnourished while gaining unwanted extra weight. But, the holidays don’t have to bring on an extra 5 to 10 pounds each January.
Strategic planning will help you avoid the holiday pitfalls.
- Do not set yourself up for failure by setting unrealistic expectations such as “I won’t eat any ___________ (so, don’t fill in the blank with your personal pitfall such as sugar, chips, pastry, bread, etc.) Eat enough of what you enjoy to avoid a sense of deprivation. A little of something can often be more satisfying than a lot. Savor what you eat; enjoy it and then stop. If you do overindulge, isolate the event. Start the next meal or day with new resolve. One slip will not derail your goals unless you let it be the beginning of a new habit.
- If you are at a social gathering sample what you want and then “move away from the food.” Visit with people. Use your mouth to converse with rather than consume. When selecting what to eat, be sure to add some fresh fruits and vegetables to your choices. They provide nutrients plus their fiber makes you feel full. And fruits and vegetables take longer to eat.
- Remember to thoroughly chew your food. Chewing is the first step in the digestive process. Salivary enzymes are mixed with the food and the teeth mechanically break down the food. The slower you eat, the fewer calories you consume.
- Thirst can be mistaken for hunger. Make sure you are well hydrated. If your holidays include alcohol, replenishing your fluids are especially important because alcohol causes dehydration. One way to ensure adequate hydration while decreasing alcohol consumption is to begin your festivities with a glass of water and for every glass of alcohol consumed, drink another glass of water.
- When you are hungry, the first bite of food tastes exquisite. As you continue to eat the pleasure subsides and if you continue to consume, discomfort sets in. Be mindful when you eat. Stop when you have had enough. Do not continue to eat because it is on your plate. A good strategy is leaving a little on your plate.
- Make sure you are well rested. People who are sleep deprived tend to gain weight. So, take care of yourself and get some rest. Have more fun while avoiding weight gain.
The holidays are meant to be a joyous time of gathering with friends and family. Over-indulging wreaks havoc with your health and waistline. By being conscious and making healthful choices, you can enjoy the festivities and stay healthy at the same time.