Don't Let the Holidays Ruin Your Health: Use This Plan of Attack

Photo Credit: Edel Rodriguez

"He who fails to plan is planning to fail."
- Churchill -

I will be the first to say, I love holiday foods. Maybe it's just me, but nothing says Turkey day like a buttery stack of stuffing mounded on my plate. I can down some sugared yams like no one's business too. But if I think back to why I have chosen a healthy lifestyle, not only for myself, but for my family, some decisions on what I eat automatically get easier to make.

The holidays bring many good things. Family, food, time off work, slowing down (a bit), and lots of fun. But the holidays can bring even more. According to a Weight Watchers report, the average American usually gains 7 to 10 pounds between Thanksgiving to New Years. In my opinion, it doesn't have to be this way. With a little vigilance and a healthy plan of attack we can all enjoy a healthy, holiday season.

1. Eat a great breakfast. Sometimes we may think, "I know I'm going to eat a truckload today so I will just skip breakfast to save my calories for later". This is wrong thinking. Eat a nutritious breakfast so that later you are not starved and eat more calories than you would with breakfast combined. Chose something light like a whole-grain cereal with skim milk, toasted Ezekiel bread with natural peanut butter or a hard-boiled egg.

2. Drink lots of water. (Preachin' to myself, here!) If we are dehydrated our bodies sometimes recognize this signal as hunger instead of thirst. Keep a container of water near you throughout the day to help feel more filled up. (I personally love these.) Drink several glasses of water well before your big meal then hold off drinking a lot during the big meal... this way your body will absorb more of the food's nutrients. (Also, I personally prefer to drink water instead of sodas especially during the holidays. I like the idea of saving the calories for the great foods instead of drinking them.)

3. Don't hang out around the food. This may seem silly, but if you are around the food, it's inevitable you are going to snack a lot more. A little bite here and a little there... the calories will add up. The holidays should not be an "all-you-can-eat-buffet" mindset. I like to search out a relative I haven't talked to for awhile, grab a cup of coffee and get caught up. Before you know it, your food is settling, you're feeling full and are more focused on the person than grabbing another piece of pie.

4. Keep portions in mind. It is fine to try samples of each of the foods you love. But keep it within reason. As a general rule for eating healthy during the holidays, fill your plate half with veggies, a quarter of lean meat (skinless, white-meat turkey is best choice) and the rest with a starch. Eat slowly and chew your food up very well. Enjoy every single bite. Think about what you are eating and do not scarf it down without realizing what you are eating.

5. Bring your own sides. This is really a great way to control what you eat. If you love a certain holiday food, then why not make a healthier version of it? If you love mashed potatoes, go to google and type in "healthy mashed potatoes recipe" ~ the internet is amazingly full of healthy recipes. I love cranberry sauce, but the average recipe for cranberry sauce can have up to 105 grams of sugar!!! So here is a healthier version which I plan to bring.

6. Go on a walk. After your food has digested and the turkey-day coma is beginning to set in, grab a buddy, your gloves and coat and set out on a 20 minute brisk walk. In just 20 minutes, the average person will burn up to 300-400 calories by walking. Walking also releases endorphins so not only will your midsection thank you, your mental state will be much better too.

So there you have it. Enjoy your holidays. Eat well. Savor every bite, but don't go anywhere without your own plan of attack.

Keep posted for the foods you must avoid during the holidays to stay healthy this week on the blog as well!

No comments:

Post a Comment