Posted on November 25 2015
By Elena Razmpoosh, MS, RD, CD
Thanksgiving is approaching and the holiday season is officially starting! Are you concerned about holiday overindulgence? If you answered “yes” to this question, I would like to offer you a few tips that might help you enjoy some of the holiday goodies and allow you to enjoy the company of your friends and family without worrying about food, calories, and weight gain.
My very first advice is to put that negative “all or nothing” attitude aside. Remember, you can eat all foods in moderation and you should enjoy them without guilt. The word “guilt” is unfortunately used too often, especially during the holiday season. This holiday season, I urge you to throw out the word “guilt” and instead focus on balance, moderation, freedom, joy and celebration. A healthy relationship with and attitude towards food does not only benefit YOU but also your FAMILY, especially your CHILDREN. Eating balanced and in moderation, however, requires you to have a plan. Remember, having a plan cannot only help you during the holiday season but also on any other given day during the year.
Below are some ideas that could be part of your plan:
- Start your day with a healthy breakfast, ideally including one to two servings of vegetables. You can easily incorporate vegetables by making a smoothie for breakfast (check out this website for smoothie recipes: http://simplegreensmoothies.com/).
- If you like the idea of a juice cleanse, I highly recommend planning one either right before the holidays or right after. A juice cleanse will not only lower your calories for a specific time to allow your body to reset, heal, and repair but you are likely to experience a decrease in your cravings and portion sizes.
- Hydrate! Most people mistake thirst for hunger. Dehydration leads to overeating. Make sure you’re drinking 6-8 glasses of water a day if not more.
- Eat fruits and veggies. Instead of focusing on what you can’t have, focus on what you CAN have. Lots of fruits, veggies, and herbs that are rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, water, antioxidants and phytochemicals. These foods will fill you up faster and will also make you feel better and more energized.
- Don’t show up starving at a party or family gathering where you know you will be presented with lots of calorie dense foods. Snack on some healthy plant foods and try to focus especially on vegetables.
- Make new traditions. Start with activities that reflect your goals and values. If your goal is to eat healthier, make a tradition of brining a healthy food/beverage to a gathering. Suggest a new tradition of going for a family walk after dinner. Even though everyone will feel sluggish after eating lots of turkey, I promise you, they will thank you after the walk and after getting fresh air!
- Remember the fact that it takes your brain at least 20 minutes to realize that you are full. You can slow down your eating by making sure that you are thoroughly chewing your food. Pay attention at your next meal how much your chew your food. Another idea is to wait at least 10 minutes after your first serving before you take more. If waiting is too difficult for you, think of something else that you could do to give yourself a break. Perhaps you can refill drinks for others, bring out the trash or just take a quick step outside to get some fresh air.
- Plan ahead your limits on alcohol. For example, have only 2 drinks and wait for the second until after you eat, or drink something non-alcoholic in between. Choose a glass of wine over mixed holiday drinks which are often loaded with sugar. You could even add soda water to your wine to make it a wine spritzer! Remember, alcohol lowers your inhibitions and most often leads to overindulgence. So, remember to plan to limit your alcohol intake or if you want to avoid it altogether, try soda water with lime as a non-alcoholic drink
- Make sure you get adequate rest, especially during the holiday season. When you’re sleep deprived you are more likely to overeat or make unhealthy food choices and you are less likely to work out because you’re tired.
- Have fun to the fullest and try to avoid stress at all costs. Stress hormones are unhealthy and can increase your risk for weight gain. Remember, the holiday season is really about spending time with family and friends. If you feel stressed and overwhelmed, reevaluate your actions and decide whether they are genuine and necessary.