Here’s some serious food for thought: Statistics show that on average most of us probably consume from 3,000 to 5,000 calories around the Thanksgiving table alone never mind how many thousands more between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. But while eating often takes center stage during the holidays, that doesn’t mean we have to give up on good health. There are many healthy holiday eating tips mentioned here to help you navigate the festivities.
Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain IS Possible
If you’re trying to reach your feel great weight, Thanksgiving can be a very stressful holiday. … Instead of embarking on a six-week food fest, take control of the day and jumpstart your motivation for a healthy and active holiday season—one where you lose weight, not gain –– all while enjoying some of your favorite holiday foods!
Have a Strategy
The key is setting up your holiday health strategy and sticking with it. Don’t give it all up until January when you will likely feel overwhelmed by those extra pounds and tired of all the holiday festivities. Now is the time to start thinking about how you are going to fend off holiday weight gain. Here are some easy tricks to consider:
Bring Your Own Food
Contribute a healthy dish to a gathering to ensure there’s something you can indulge in.
Eat the best-for-your choices first like enjoy the brothy soup so you don’t eat as much of the main course.
Stay clear of the munchies like roasted nuts and chips while you chat with others. Instead, consider eating a healthy alternative such as raw veggies and dip that you might have brought your host (and for your sake too!).
Don’t Go to the Mall HUNGRY
Ah, the lure of the food court! Never go to the mall on an empty stomach. To cut down on the lure of the food court, never go to the mall on an empty stomach.
Plan your shopping route so you don’t pass the Cinnabon stand a dozen times. Remember the sight of that place as well as the aroma coming from it, is purposeful for the business ☺
Choose a sit-down restaurant over the grab-and-go food court whenever you can request a table away from loud sounds and distractions, to reduce stress.
Keep Track of What You Eat
Maintain a food diary to help you stay committed to your goals during this risky eating period.
Weigh yourself daily (or at least weekly) and use that number to guide your actions. Research has shown that women, who step on the scale every day and then act accordingly, either increasing their exercise or being stricter about what they eat, are 82 percent less likely to keep weight in check.
Zip yourself into your favorite pair of slim-fitting pants once a week and note how they fit. Are they too tight? Adjust your eating and exercise habits. Fit you, just right? Keep up the good work.
Eat Before Going to the Party
Have a healthy snack to curb your appetite before you leave the house. This is my number one strategy before I go to any party. It helps me to steer clear of junk food like chips, pretzels, and fatty dips.
Eat breakfast. This has been shown to prevent blood sugar highs and lows and cause you to overeat later in the day.
Limit the number of high-calorie foods on your party plate and choose foods wisely, filling your plate with low-calorie items like leafy green salads, vegetable dishes, and lean proteins, and taking smaller portions of the richer ones. That way, you can eat a larger amount of food for fewer calories and not feel deprived.
Pour drinks into tall, skinny glasses, not the fat, wide kind. Studies have shown that people are more likely to pour 30 percent more liquid into those squatter glasses.
And voila, another successful dining experience without packing on a lot of extra unhealthy calories!
Control Your Environment
Gear up to use your sheer willpower during large family dinners.
Eat with a small group when you can. Studies find that dining with six or more people can cause you to eat 76 percent more, most likely because the meal can last so long. At a big sit-down dinner, try to be the last one to start and the second one to stop eating.
Sit next to a fellow healthy eater (there’s strength in numbers) to your favorite uncle who eats slowly, so his pace can slow yours. This really works! I tend to use the reverse psychology by finding a loved one that tends to indulge in unhealthy foods and sit next to them. I’ve noticed how they are more uncomfortable eating the unhealthier foods and don’t get up for seconds. One day they’ll thank me!
Keep Up the Exercise
Be determined to squeeze in at least one or two workouts a week, no matter how busy you get to work, visitors, party invitations, and holiday shopping and errands. Keep a firm exercise schedule and stick with it regardless of what comes your way.
Break it up. If you don’t have time for your daily four-mile walk, be mindful to do shorter walks throughout the day by taking the stairs or parking a distance from your destination.
Tell yourself that all the running around you’re doing (cleaning for house guests, dashing through a million stores to find the perfect presents) can help keep your weight in check.
Believing that what you are doing can have a positive effect on subtle changes in your overall health behavior.
Cook Healthy Holiday Meals
Of course, this can be a challenging time of year to make the right food choices, but healthy holiday eating is possible. If you consider making your favorite recipes with a healthy twist, you’ll come out winning in the end. Your guests may appreciate the healthy variations too! I often find people thanking me when I tell them how I managed to make a healthy delicious meal such as a healthy butter chicken dish without the extra calories.
Keep Sugar in Check
For example, when making desserts or eggnog, consider reducing the amount of sugar by half and enhance “sweetness” by adding a bit of citrus, more vanilla, nutmeg, stevia or cinnamon. Try turbinado sugar, honey or molasses — their great flavor means you can use less. If recipes call for sugary toppings like frosting, jams, and syrup, use fresh or unsweetened frozen fruit instead.
Everyone loves chocolate especially when stressed during the holidays, so I often prepare one of my favorite raw chocolate mouse desserts – it’s so easy to prepare and is a hit every time!
Use Less Salt
Salt is another ingredient to reduce by at least half in most recipes. Also go easy on salty foods and condiments like pickles, catsup, mustard and soy sauce. When using salt, I like to use sea salt instead of white table salt, as a healthier alternative. Make sure to include crunchy, raw veggies on the snack tray — cucumber slices and jicama sticks among the carrots and celery. Hummus or salsa make a much healthier dip too.
And of course, keep the fat in check and cut in about half by baking with unsweetened applesauce or mashed bananas to get that creamy consistency that fat offers. Instead of full-fat condensed milk, use condensed skim in drinks and desserts. Look for gravy recipes that can be made with fat-free, low-sodium broth (or drippings with the fat removed).
Good fats have their place too. Consider healthier fats such as olive oil, coconut oil, avocados and raw nuts to keep up with your fat needs.
Curb the Gluten
Another great healthy eating tip for holiday time is to steer clear of too much bread and other gluten products and focus more on getting enough protein and vegetables to balance out the sweet stuff indulgences. The key is enjoying it all –– in moderation.
Reducing gluten products, including gluten-free alternatives, will help you to keep the weight loss in check. Don’t be fooled by the “gluten-free” marketing hype as it all breaks down to sugar in your body.
Are you armed to keep the weight off with your healthy holiday eating tips?
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