Avoid the extra pounds this holiday season
Now that the holiday season is among us, it is time for us sit back, relax and make cherished memories with our loved ones. It is time for family, friends, festivities and of course, food. The Holidays wouldn’t be the holidays without all those delicious, rich foods, including sugary desserts. Yes, around the holidays we tend to throw our healthy eating intentions out the window and we allow ourselves to over-indulge. Whether it’s enjoying a meal at home, a church potluck or attending a holiday party at the office, there is no shortage of food and drink around this time of year. And traveling certainly doesn’t help; as we are flying and driving to see our loved ones, healthy options are almost always a rare commodity.
It is no surprise that over the course of the holidays, we tend to put a few extra pounds, simply because we overindulge. But being healthy over the holidays doesn’t have to be an added stress or an arduous task. We can still be health-conscious while enjoying in the fun and festivities. Don’t fall into bad habits this holiday season, take control with a few simple strategies.
- Food as fuel
In keeping a healthy relationship with food, I always keep in mind that food is what fuels my body. I don’t necessarily think of foods in terms of calories, rather I think of foods in terms of nutrient content and the fuel or energy it will provide. I know that if I eat a balanced meal that includes protein, veggies and healthy fats, I’ll have the energy I need to run around with my kids and enjoy all of the festivities of the holiday season. However, if I over indulge in the sugary drinks and desserts, then I know I’ll be tired [from the sugar crash], cranky and moody! And who wants to be around a Scrooge around the holidays? Therefore, changing the way you see food is rather an important step in staying healthy not only around the holidays but year-round.
So next time you are faced with a table of food choices, scope the options out for the foods that will provide you the most nutrients along with the foods that are most close to their natural state. For example if you have a choice of bread or crackers, made of processed flour with their nutrients stripped away or a tray of raw veggies; instinct should direct you towards the raw veggies that provide a variety of nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber.
- Bring your own dish
Another important thing you can do to minimize temptation is to prepare and ahead of time. If you know that a holiday party or a family meal will most likely not include a healthy option, like vegetables or greens, then let the host know that you would like to bring a dish to share. This way you will ensure that there will at least one healthy option available to you. Also, let your friends and family know that you are working on eating healthier so that they won’t offended when you politely pass on the alcohol or sugary desserts. You might even encourage them to start taking a closer look at their diet and lifestyle.
- Eat before you go
On the same note, if you have a holiday party and it’s “uncool” to bring your own dish, then the best way to avoid overindulging is to actually eat something before you go. By eating a small meal ahead of time, you won’t be starving by the time you get to your event, which means you’ll focus your attention more on conversation and laughter rather than hovering over the buffet table ready to eat anything that’s put in front of you.
- Avoid the sugar rush
So let’s talk about desserts! Sure, you’ll be offered all those wonderful traditional sweets that you grew up with and hold near and dear to your heart. But rather than avoiding dessert altogether and risk social isolation, have a strategy in place. Instead of going for the biggest slice of dessert, help yourself to a smaller portion, remembering that sugar is meant to be enjoyed on special occasions and not an everyday treat. Then, avoid gulfing it down in 10 seconds flat; rather enjoy the taste, texture and aroma of the dessert. Take a bite and put it down. See, the problem with eating sugary desserts is that we devour it all at once. This makes your blood sugar spike, and since your body can only handle a certain amount of sugar at a time, your body will convert that excess sugar into fat. That’s how we put on extra weight. A better approach would be to take a bite and come back to it later. That way we spread the amount of sugar we are consuming over a bigger stretch of time, putting less stress on our liver and pancreas which have to deal with the excess of glucose. Therefore, you have a better chance of avoiding the extra weight gain. And don’t forget to be conscious of drinks as well. We tend to focus only on foods; however drinks can also be loaded with sugar. Don’t lose control consuming bubbly champagne or beer, these can also be a major source of weight gain. Remember to drink plenty of water to help you stay hydrated.
- Follow the 80/20 rule
And the best strategy to avoid over indulging is to follow the 80/20 rule. Eat until you are about 80% full. This is actually a common Japanese practice called, “hara hachi bu.” Remember, you don’t have to eat everything that’s on your plate. Eat until you’re satisfied, not stuffed, simple. You don’t have to say yes to everything you’re offered, it’s ok to say no! Think before you take another bite, are satisfied or are you really hungry? It’s a good idea to check in with yourself and listen to your body. Don’t wait until you’re stuffed, learn to scale back and stop when you feel satiated.
It’s all about balance, enjoy the foods you love in moderation, and remember that mealtimes should be enjoyable and not something that adds stress to your holidays.
Originally Published at: http://rgvisionmagazine.com/healthy-for-the-holidays/