The holiday season is upon us once again. While it is a time to be festive and celebrate with friends and family, it can also become the time of year when we overeat and gain weight. If we focus instead on a healthy balance of food choices and keeping our bodies active, the holiday season doesn’t have to mean a time of packing on the pounds.
Here are a few tips to keep those calories down but still enjoy the season:
· Reduce the amount of fat and calories you consume. Eat white turkey without the skin. Skim the fat off of gravy after refrigeration. Use skim milk, non-fat yogurt or broth to make mashed potatoes instead of whole milk and butter. Substitute egg whites for whole eggs in desserts. Top those desserts with fresh fruit instead of frosting. Use low-fat or non-fat soups for casseroles. Search that unlimited source of information - the Internet - for other healthy alternatives. You’ll be amazed at how fat and calories can be easily reduced without sacrificing taste.
· Pay attention to portion size. If you eat too much at one meal, go easy on the next. It takes 500 calories or 3500 calories per week above your usual consumption to gain a pound.
· Keep problem items off the kitchen counter or coffee table and replace with healthier items. We may grab sweets in a holiday bowl or cookie tin without being mindful about them.
· Watch the office goodies. This is the time of year where well-meaning coworkers bake their special holiday treats and offices receive food gifts from customers. Go easy at those pot lucks. You don’t have to try everything.
· Don’t skip meals in anticipation of a future one. Eat a healthy snack before you go to that holiday party so you don’t feel like you’re starving and overindulge as soon as you get there.
· Cruise that buffet table and enjoy the view, but choose carefully. Don’t stand there for hours and graze while you socialize. Skip your least favorite things. Don’t forget fruits and vegetables to keep a balanced plate.
· Don’t stuff yourself. Eat slow when you savor those holiday treats. Be mindful. Enjoy the taste, smell and texture. Use small plates.
· Watch not only the alcohol indulgence, but the non-alcoholic beverages with high calorie count. They can pack on the calories while you’re socializing. Alternate with diet sodas or sparkling flavored waters.
· Become familiar with www.choosemyplate.gov to learn more about food groups, portion sizes and healthy choices. There is no better time than now to start making changes.
· Keep activity on the forefront during this time of year. It can help relieve the holiday stress and prevent weight gain. Use our glorious Michigan winters to go sledding, ice skating or building snowmen. Go for a walk outside on sunny days. Remember that cleaning your house for guests and running through the mall counts toward activity. Hooray for that!
· As we move toward the New Year, keep activity as a way of life and try get it most days of the week. Thirty minutes is the goal, but activity can be done in 2 fifteen-minute periods or even 3 ten-minute periods. It doesn’t have to be done all at once. It just needs to get done.
The message? Enjoy the holidays and the food, but in moderation. If you splurge one night, don’t beat yourself up. Get right back on track the next day. Choose your indulgences wisely. Have that piece of pie, but not the second piece. Enjoy one cookie, not four of them. Keep yourself active during the winter. Go to the mall, run up and down your stairs, park farther out in the parking lot, do a workout on television, take the dog for a walk or join a gym. Add some healthier recipes to your holiday portfolio or change up the family recipes that you’ve used for years. Be bold with your choices! Remember that moderation is the key to a healthy lifestyle. Your body will thank you.