Pumpkin pie, sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes and gravy, honey baked ham and overflowing bowls and platters of a variety of other tasty foods… You got it, the holidays are upon us. I love this time of year, from Thanksgiving through New Year’s, it’s a time of celebration and gathering with our families and friends. It’s also a time when many of us gain weight. Depending on the study or survey consulted, this weight gain can range from about 1 pound to 7 to 10 pounds. And regardless of the number, studies have shown that those who do gain weight during the holiday season don’t tend to lose it.
Gaining unwanted pounds is not good for us. Being overweight or obese is unhealthy and can lead to a host of disease states and conditions such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, certain cancers and more. Should we already have some of these disease states or conditions, carrying too much weight on our frames can adversely affect them.
I hear your sighs. We want to enjoy the holidays. I get it. So do I. And it can be done while still enjoying some of the treats that we like. Keep in mind that a lot of our holiday parties and meals are in our or someone else’s home, not at a restaurant, although we enjoy our festivities in this establishments as well. We eat at a variety of places and can make unhealthy choices everywhere we eat. To help navigate your holiday eating throughout the season, here are some tips:
- Focus on socializing and having fun, not eating.
- Don’t go to a party or celebratory meal on an empty stomach. Have a small snack before arriving.
- Take a look at all of the food available to you before filling your plate. And when you do, fill most of it with healthier choices first.
- Select smaller portions.
- Use the healthy plate method. One-half of the plate is non-starchy vegetables, one-quarter is starch, one-quarter is protein and fruit and dairy are on the placemat. (If you have a disease state that prevents you from eating certain foods and/or which you have been advised to limit or avoid, please do so.)
- Don’t skip a meal so that you can eat more at a party. It might lead you to overeat.
- Offer to bring a healthy dish. If you’re the host or hostess, make several healthy dishes.
- Modify your recipes. Lighten them up by replacing higher calorie and fat ingredients with healthier substitutions.
- Healthy methods of food preparation include grilling, baking, steaming and roasting. Limit/avoid sauces, gravies, heaps of butter and sugar and fat laden food.
- Avoid excess alcohol and snacks.
- Don’t sit near the foods that will tempt you. Sometimes we eat just because we see it.
- Eat slowly. Put down the fork from time to time. Converse with others at the table. It takes 20 minutes for the stomach to tell the brain it’s full.
- Leave the table when you’re finished.
- Take a walk when done. Burn some of those calories you just consumed.
- Enjoy the holidays, including some of the less healthy food choices. Just don’t overdo the less nutritious choices.
- If you over-indulge one day, on the next day get back on the horse and go back to healthier eating habits on the days that follow.
- Remember to exercise regularly.
So, enjoy your holiday season. You deserve it! Just exercise some restraint. So, let’s raise a glass to a happy, healthy new year…with no new unwanted pounds!