Do you approach the holiday season with a feeling of dread, instead of delight? Is it because you fear you’ll throw caution to the wind and – by the time you have the courage to get on the scale in January – you’ll find you’re 4 or 5 pounds heavier than at Thanksgiving?
This year, make your New Year’s resolution early and plan for flavor, not fat. This year, avoid the trap that usually begins with the Thanksgiving feast where, by some accounts, the average American adult will gobble more than 3,000 calories in a single sitting!
It’s no wonder when many “traditional” recipes are laden with heavy cream, butter and sugar.
Create new traditions and come January you’ll feel wonderful when you look in the mirror and say, “Yes! I am starting the New Year feeling great!”
Whether you’re celebrating Christmas dinner or Hanukah (in 2013 this holiday coincides with Thanksgiving!), Kwanza or New Year’s Eve, now is the time to make your lists, collect your new recipes, and stock up to make it easier for you when it’s time to choose.
Be sure to take some time to count your blessings – knowing that you have the freedom to choose your foods.
1. Food and feelings! Make this the year you begin to think about you and your relationship with food. Begin to think about how food affects you, and how what you choose can influence how you feel. Food is neither good nor bad, but it can be fatty or healthy, oversauced or elegantly flavorful. Choose flavorful, well-prepared foods, and feel great about your choices. According to Scholastic.com, there is only one original account of the first Thanksgiving – and turkey isn’t even mentioned! Cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes weren’t invented yet, so the Pilgrims and Native Americans feasted on duck and venison, onions, corn and squash.
2. Balancing act! This year, throw off the shackles that are holding you back from feeling good about food. It’s not an “all or nothing” proposition. If you decide to indulge in something overly sweet, rich or high-cal into your diet, find some balance with salads and vegetables, lean meats and whole grains. You can balance the scale in your favor.
3. Be pro active! Even if you can’t make it to your usual aerobics class or gym session, find a few creative alternatives and keep moving. I’m a fan of fitness trackers like pedometers and other monitoring devices. Research shows that they motivate people to move more. A simple pedometer is the perfect gift – it’s inexpensive and convenient. Walking at least 10,000 steps a day will burn about 3,500 calories weekly. Start gradually, but aim for about 12,000-15,000 steps a day.
4. Plan to succeed! Many of us face multiple social functions throughout the holidays. In addition to the usual Thanksgiving feast, you may have your workplace party, employee lunch, friends and relatives who want to go out to eat, or you may be invited to dinner and have no control of the menu. Wherever you go, take the edge off your appetite by eating small snack before the event. Great choices: a half turkey sandwich, or a nonfat yogurt with 1/3 cup no-sugar granola. Once again, know that there are no forbidden foods. It’s all about fatty ones or healthy ones. If you want a taste of a fatty favorite – something cheesy, saucy, gravy-soaked or fried – then take just a taste and be satisfied with that.
5. Drink up! Sure you can toast the holidays – but just do it with more water than soda or alcoholic beverages. One glass of regular soda has about 150 calories. Drinking one extra soda a day can result in you gaining 16 pounds over one year! One bottle of ice tea has about 240 calories and can slam you with 25 extra pounds a year. Eliminating sweetened drinks is one of the easiest ways to improve your diet. Drink to your health with water, herbal tea or sparkling water.
6. Say yes to NO! There’s really no reason to feel pressured to eat. When you’re faced with someone who insists you have a little more, stand your ground and roll out the biggest two-letter word in the English language: NO! Just be smart about it, smile and say “no, thanks”…or “thanks for offering, but not this time”…or “I appreciate your offer, but I’m full –thanks for thinking of me!”
Susan Burke March is Registered and Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Educator, who as eDiets Chief Nutritionist promotes the dietary health and wellbeing of consumers worldwide.