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7 Strategies-Eat Healthy this Holiday Season

For those of you dreading the holiday meals, these 7 strategies will help you create a plan for eating healthy through the holidays. Having a plan to take care of yourself and eating conscientiously will provide you the confidence to go into any event and just enjoy yourself.  Whether you are you actively working on healthy weight management. 

First, let me just say, “Food Is Your Friend”!  I will repeat this mantra on a regular basis.  We often think that food is the enemy, it is not.  Our habits and personal discipline are the saboteurs in our health and ultimately our weight.  Being aware of our personal pitfalls and having a realistic plan we can then stick to will ensure successful weight management.

To weigh or not to weigh

I recommend getting on a scale at the beginning of the holiday season and recording your weight on a calendar.  This gives you a conscious starting point.  If you do not want to gain weight, you will want to check in with the scale on a regular basis to keep yourself accountable.  Sharing your goal with a partner or friend is also a good idea.  We often are more successful when we are accountable.

Do Not Start a Detoxification program

Starting a elimination diet during the holidays is the best way I know to self sabotage.  Having a critical health issue may mean you need to go there, but for most of us the pressure of family meals and event eating is to difficult to negotiate and feel good about with food restrictions.  We identify family, warm, happy feelings with food.  We feel deprived and then guilty for note being able stick with a “diet”.

Stable weight equals weight loss

Remember: Getting to January 2nd without gaining weight is a “Win” and equals weight loss.  Most of us will put a little weight on with the slowing of exercise, and the additional pressure of eating foods we do not usually indulge in.  Not gaining weight means your strategy for enjoying the holiday, the wonderful holiday foods, and the busy holiday schedule was Successful.

Following are my 7 Strategies to Eating Healthy through the Holidays

  1. Food is your friend, go with a plan: Know your weakness around food and family. Plan for success.   What this means, is knowing what to order when eating out.  What to prepare and take along with you to a pot luck event.
  2. Avoid foods you know you are sensitive to: If you have a wheat/gluten sensitivity or a dairy allergy, plan a substitute, let your host know, or carry an alternative.  A plate of beautiful Christmas cookies or a cake is just that, a beautiful work of art.  I try to physically recall how it makes me feel after I have eaten it and avoid foods because I have cheated enough to have a good memory of the experience.
  3. Start with water and move to alcohol: Alcohol is a calorie heavy addition to the meal, limit it.  Start your event with sparking water with lime or a little juice.  Save your glass of wine for dinner.  Have a cocktail but avoid juice mixes or sweetened soda. Use instead: mineral water or soda water and squeeze of lime or lemon.
  4. Eat something healthy before attending a party: If you are going to a cookie exchange, or a work event where you know there will not be foods that you can comfortably eat.  Eat something before you go. I use this rule before any event, I do not go to an event hungry, even with good food available.  Or, take a dish that you can eat, it is a wonderful opportunity to introduce people to well prepared, healthy options.
  5. Start the buffet with the vegetables move to the proteins. Put salads and vegetable on your plate first. Salads and vegetables tend to occupy larger parts of the plate leaving less room for other foods.  Move to the proteins next.  If there is any room left on the plate.
  6. Add the Starches to the plate last or go back for them after you have enjoyed your salad, vegetables and protein.  You may find you need to eat less because you are not hungry and you just want a taste instead of a huge serving.  Put gravy and salad dressings on the side.  You will use less if you have gravy and other dressings on the side.
  7. Dinner or dessert: never in the same meal ( I save it for breakfast). This has always been my favorite saying.  I do live by it.  My favorite coffee shop had a wonderful baker that made all our favorite pies at Thanks Giving and Christmas.  I would regularly have a piece of pie with my coffee on a Sunday morning and find that I enjoyed it thoroughly and then did not miss it at a big meal in the evening.  Motto of the story: Pack your pumpkin pie to go.  It makes a great breakfast during the holiday season, and you will burn off the extra calories you consume in adding whip cream in your daily walking. 

Let me just close with these final thoughts

Eat consciously, knowing that leftovers are fabulous and they always taste better the day after. 

If you can’t eat everything served, pack it for later to avoid overeating. 

Remember we do not actually feel full until 20 minutes after we stop eating, so step away from the table at the first feelings of comfort in your stomach-not full.  You can always go back later for a second helping.

If all else fails get yourself a pretty salad size plate and manage your portions by serving yourself on a smaller plate size.  Use the tablespoon approach: 1 tablespoon of everything you want to try.

Lastly, do not forget “Food is your Friend”.

Plan and Eat responsibly and have a Wonderful Holiday Season!