Strategies for Holiday Eating

The holidays—a time of extra activities and rich food.

The Holiday Season may cause irregular eating that often means eating more “empty calories.” This leaves us malnourished while gaining weight! The holidays do not have to mean an extra 5-10 pounds by January. Strategic planning can help avoid these holiday pitfalls.

Do not set yourself up for failure…

by setting unrealistic expectations such as “I won’t eat any___________ (fill in the blank with your personal pitfall such as sugar, chip, pastry, bread etc.) Have enough of what you enjoy to avoid the 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 is not going to 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 rather than consume. When selecting what to eat be sure to add 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 more slowly you eat, the fewer calories you consume.

Thirst can be mistaken as hunger.

Make sure you are well hydrated. If your holidays include alcohol, replenishing your fluids are especially important because alcohol can cause 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. You will be, and have more fun while avoiding weight gain.

The holidays are meant to be a joyous time of gathering with friends and family. Overindulging can wreck havoc with your health and waistlines. By being conscious and making healthful choices, you can enjoy the festivities and stay healthy at the same time.

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