Three Ways to Eat Healthy During the Holidays
It’s the season for candied yams and buttery mashed potatoes, breaded chicken and roasted duck, Yule logs, pies and egg nog. But before you dive into the festive smorgasbord, consider that a series of “just one more bite” justifications will come back to bite you in the New Year. Here are three ways to stay slim while enjoying your favorite holiday treats.
1. Moderate how much you eat. It’s easy to eat small meals if you spread them out (try 5-6 meals a day instead of 2-3). Frequent, small meals will keep your metabolism up and keep you from going hungry and then overeating. You might even find that you enjoy food in small portions – it’s more of a treat, and you’ll spend longer savoring it. If you’re desperate for some fig pudding, have a small serving. This is always a better option than denying yourself, obsessing until you can’t take it anymore, and diving into a colossal dish of the stuff.
Eating slowly is another good way to eat less. As you start piling your plate, keep in mind that you will fill up on less food than you think. Start with small portions and go back for more – if you’re still hungry after 30 minutes. It’s important to allow fullness to set in. Eat too quickly and your brain doesn’t get a chance to send the message until it’s too late and you’re ballooned in an armchair with five pounds of turkey in your stomach.
What’s that? You dished too much? It’s better to waste a little food than to fork up every last bite after you’re full.
2. Eat filling foods. Some foods take longer for your body to process, and some just make your tummy feel full. Pick foods that rank high on the satiety index. Protein, such as eggs and beef, will fill you up fast. Oatmeal is a much more satisfying breakfast than sugary cereal or white toast, especially if you have it with low-fat yogurt. Soup is filling too – go for low-fat, hearty stews with meat and veggies. If you start a meal with salad, you’ll eat less for the main course.
Fiber is very filling, so go for the fruit basket instead of the fruit cake. Apples and oranges fill you up not only from fiber, but because they’re largely full of fluid. Some other rich fiber sources are beans, wild rice, and whole grain bread and pasta.
What if everything on the table is high carb, high calorie and high sugar? Reach for the most filling option. Pick the high-carb white potatoes if that will keep your paws off the stuffing and pumpkin pie. You only need a small serving of potatoes to fill up. Just go light on the gravy.
3. Have a solid strategy. Make a plan (and write it on a sticky note, if you have to) before hitting the holiday buffets. If you look at the whole nutrition picture instead of seeing isolated food choices, you’ll be less likely to choose impulsively. Here’s a goal: decide to have one dessert a week – preferably at the end of the week, as your reward. You’ll stride past the cakes and candy dishes if you are looking forward to enjoying that Pecan pie on Saturday. Without a strategy, you might have the peppermint bark, ginger bread, hot chocolate and truffles, and be too gorged on sweets to really enjoy Saturday’s Pecan pie (but you’d eat it anyway). Written goals will highlight your successes and help you avoid food missteps.
Bottom line: If you absolutely must try everything in the spread, take small portions and eat slowly. Have a small meal or full glass of water 2 hours before that big dinner. And don’t show up to the table without a game plan!
Stress and Seasonal Affective Disorder can take a toll on your weight during the holidays. Check out WebMD’s article on surviving the holidays with your health intact.