The holidays are a great time - There are parties, presents, friends and family reunions and lots of yummy goodies around every corner. But for many, it is also a time for dread. With all the cookies, cakes and treats, Thanksgiving gorging and Halloween candies, you just know what will happen on your scale come January. Is there a way to have our holiday treats and your health too? Before you sneer, "bah, humbug!!" try out these waist-saving strategies and keep (or drop) a pant size come spring.
1. Keep up Your Intake of Fruits and Veggies
Don't ignore those fruits and veggies just because it's the holidays. Governmental recommendations suggest consuming between five and 11 servings a day, so It's time to dart for that vegetable tray! If you're planning a party, include more veggies and fruit (try some creative selections too such as asparagus over broccoli or chocolate dipped fruit bouquets). Produce is a great snack option, at only 25 calories per average half-cup serving. Plus, eating all this disease-preventing, healthy roughage helps fill you up so that you may not need as much of those chocolate chip cookies and eggnog.
2. The Powerful Dip
If you're at a party, go light on the dips. The classic and ubiquitous ranch dressing usually carry a load of fat and MSG so try to avoid it. But if you're hosting a party, you can harness the Power of the Dip and make protein-packed versions like hummus or nut pates for example. The options for healthy, low-fat dips are endless-- just get creative!
3. Never Say Never
Don't try to ban all treats, it's not necessary. To keep added weight at bay, no need to give up all the naughty foods - just fill up more on healthier items and keep treats to a minimum.
4. Eat a Snack Before You Leave the House
If you're starving before a party, eating a little bit of protein or high fiber food before you head out. This will help keep you from ravaging the holiday fare and may keep you satisfied just long enough to make those crucial nutrition decisions while partying with your friends.
5. Don't Eat Mindlessly
Have you ever been alarmed at the realization that minutes after starting to talk nervously to a new gal, guy or boss at the office party, your hand has been moving food to your mouth non-stop? People sometimes eat out of social anxiety or to keep their hands busy, and this habit can help contribute to weight gain. If you have to nibble to occupy yourself in front of others, do it with healthy choices and take small bites. Watch for signs of eating out of stress or emotion, and aim for self-care and prevention.
6. Shift the Focus
Yes, it's no doubt that many of us live for good food, and holiday time has the best. But social gatherings are not just about food but also about people - catching up with old friends and making new ones. Keeping this in the forefront of your mind will help keep food more in the background, thus setting priorities straight.
7. Say No to High-Calorie Gifts
What's out of sight is out of mind - and out of mouth! Let friends and relatives know ahead of time to not send you treats that will sabotage your weight loss/maintenance efforts.
A Word for Hosts and Hostesses
The world of unique culinary creations has evolved. With the world becoming a much smaller place, information abounds on healthier renditions of old classics as well as new, clever and fusion dishes never heard of before. If you are hosting a party, tap into the available resources and show a stance that is not only heavenly, but healthy as well.
Holiday Time does not need to be Unhealthy Time! Spread the word about the need for healthier holiday fare, watch what (and how) you're eating, put the emphasis back on people and not food, and enjoy!
Catherine S. Hains, MS RD has been interested in health and nutrition since she was a young child. Growing up in Fort Worth, TX, she earned a Bachelor's Degree in Broadcast Journalism from Texas Christian University and wrote for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram for 12 years. Her life-long interest in nutrition and disease prevention never waned, and she went on to earn her Master's Degree in Nutrition from Eastern Michigan University. Cathy, now a Registered Dietitian, owns Lighthouse Nutrition and Wellness in Gig Harbor, WA where she enjoys inspiring people of all ages to make losing weight and living a healthy lifestyle easy, fun and permanent. She enjoys good food, cooking and food preparation, and showing others how healthy this can be. Her other pastimes include traveling, art, music and family life. She also likes staying fit with tennis, bicycling walking and jogging, researching nutrition and helping clients be at their best. For more information on Cathy, visit www.lighthouse-nutrition.com or write to Catherine at firstname.lastname@example.org.