Has overeating become a holiday tradition at your house? Does the thought of the entire family together raise your blood pressure? Well, you are not alone — and there is hope.
It is possible to enjoy delicious traditional holiday food and fun, and not feel like a stuffed bird afterwards. It is also easy to trim off some of the stress that comes along with the holidays by making sure you do just a few things for yourself.
So, stop worrying and start a new tradition – happy and healthy holidays! Here are some tips to help:
Be Prepared and Plan Ahead
Before the party!
- Be sure to eat a high-fiber breakfast with some protein the morning of a holiday or big party. The fiber and protein will help keep you satisfied and less likely to overeat later in the day. Good choices include oatmeal with walnuts, yogurt with almonds and berries, or a slice of whole wheat toast and peanut butter.
- Before going to a party, have a snack. A half-cup of bean soup, two slices of turkey or a hard-boiled egg with a fiber cracker are all good choices.
- Don’t “save up” your calories by eating very little the day of an event. This strategy usually backfires. You will become ravenous and will be much more likely to over indulge!
- Keep up your exercise program – even if you need to take it down a notch – by scheduling in your exercise like you would a doctor’s appointment.
- Plan some non-food get-togethers, such as a skating party or a long neighborhood walk.
- Be sure to get enough sleep. Lack of sleep causes overeating! Staying up late shopping online may just be making you more likely to eat that donut in the office. Give yourself a bedtime and stick to it.
Beware of long shopping days!
- Keeping portion-controlled goodies in your bag will make tempting mall snacks like giant pretzels easier to resist after a long afternoon of shopping. Tuck 30 pistachios or 24 almonds in a Ziploc bag with two dried plums or apricots, or even some turkey jerky or a snack bar with less than 200 calories, at least 5 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein. The carb/protein/fat combo in these foods will keep you full.
- If long shopping days throw off your nightly routine of prepping dinner, keep some staples on hand to make quick fix meals. Some of these foods are: sliced deli meat, low-fat soups, pre-cut fresh vegetables, pre-cooked chicken breast, hardboiled eggs and fresh fruit.
So, What to Eat and Drink with all this Decadent Food Around?
Think before you eat
- If food is served buffet-style, survey the offerings before getting in line. Make decisions about what you’ll take ahead of time and take one trip.
- Fill your plate with veggies, whatever lean protein options exist and a small portion of the starchy foods or fatty bite-sized appetizers.
- Go slow! Pay attention to what you are eating, and the speed at which you eat. Eat slowly and savor each bite! Listen to your body and STOP eating when you are slightly satisfied.
Make “conscious indulgences”
- Don’t eat mindlessly. Choose the one indulgent item you really care about and have a small portion – then pass on the rest!
- Be aware that alcohol is absorbed quickly on an empty stomach. This can lower our defenses and make it much easier to dive head-first into the cheese platter. Have something to eat prior to that first drink and to stay hydrated and keep alcohol calories down, drink a glass of water or club soda between alcoholic drinks.
- Opt for lower calorie beverages and mixers. Some include light beer, wine, wine spritzers or drinks made with club soda.
- A single shot of vodka, gin, or rum mixed with club soda and a squeeze of lime will set you back only about 100 calories. Other fruity drinks can be up to five times this amount!
- Champagne or pink Prosecco are both great options too. Not only are they low on the calorie chart—around 80 to 120 per glass—but they feel more festive too!
- When you use leftovers you are not only cutting waste, but you can also help to cut calories. For example, use that fresh turkey from the big holiday meal and throw it over a spinach salad or slice ham and add to an egg white omelet the next morning.
Talk more than eat!
- If you’re planted next to the food table, you’ll shovel cheese and dip into your mouth all night long. So start your conversation with your friend or family member far on the other side of the room.
- Focus on people! Make it a point to visit with everyone you know at the gathering. Shift your attention towards socializing with others rather than eating.
- Sit down when you are eating and focus on the person seated next to you. This can help eliminate mindless grazing.
- Socializing with friends and being around people you care about lowers stress level and creates balance in your life. So remember to use the party to get a little nourishment, but most of all to catch up with old friends and family or become acquainted with new ones. This is the best nourishment of all!
Happy and healthy holidays, everyone!!
Keri Glassman, MS, RD, CDN is a nationally recognized nutrition expert and published author. She is the founder and president of Keri Glassman, Nutritious Life, a nutrition practice based in New York City. For years Keri has been a leader in advancing a “whole person” approach to health and wellness. She has dedicated her career to creating services and promoting education through her “Nutritious Life” brand. Twitter: @KeriGlassman