Eight Simple Strategies for a Healthier Holiday Season
The Holiday season is here, and with it an avalanche of calories, fat, and sugar finds its way into the typical American diet. Amish or not we find ourselves tempted at every corner with holiday offerings of pies, cookies, candy, snack mixes, and other not-so-healthy foods that don’t offer much more than excesses, which expand our waistlines and drag us down. Even people who typically eat a very healthy diet can find themselves challenged at this time of year. So what can you do to achieve a healthier holiday season while still enjoying it? Here are eight simple strategies you can put into use to have a healthier holiday season.
- Plan and prep – Plan your menus on a weekly basis, keeping in mind activities that revolve around food. That way you can tweak your food intake at home to balance out the food offered elsewhere. Prep your food ahead of time so it is more convenient for you to eat at home during the week and ensures that you have plenty of healthy, fresh vegetables and fruit available for snacks or meals.
- Don’t skip – It’s tempting to skip a meal or two when we have a Christmas gathering later in the evening – all in the hopes of keeping our day’s calorie intake within limits. However, we get so hungry that we tend to eat more at the party than we should. Instead, have a light meal of vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains. You won’t be as hungry later on and will be less likely to binge on the party offerings.
- Set limits – One of my college friends had a rule that when she ate pizza she only ate two pieces. It didn’t matter if it was squares or pie slices – she only ate two. When you attend a holiday gathering involving food, try to set limits for yourself ahead of time. Maybe you will allow yourself two cookies for the evening. Be selective and choose two that appeal to you the most. Knowing and staying within your limits enables you to enjoy your food without feelings of guilt.
- Bring healthy food – If you are attending a party or holiday gathering, bring along a selection of healthy food choices. It doesn’t have to be a vegetable platter with low fat ranch dip. Be creative. Find other healthy, delicious recipes and share them with your friends. That way you will for sure have healthy choices available.
- Veggies first – Fill at least half your plate with healthy choices like fresh vegetables and fruit. That leaves less room for higher calorie, less nutritious options.
- Be selective – Choose foods that you really enjoy, things that you do not get very often. . . and savor them. Eat them slowly and fully taste and enjoy them. Don’t waste your calories on food that tastes so-so. If it is not that great, why eat it?
- Stop, drop, and roll – As soon as you start feeling full – stop, drop, and roll. In other words, stop eating, drop your plate in the sink or garbage (if it is paper), and roll (walk) away from the food table. Grab a glass of water and focus on conversations and fun times with your friends and family.
- Exercise – With busy holiday schedules it is easy to let exercise routines fall behind. Do not let that happen. You have worked all year trying to get into or stay in shape, so don’t let these few weeks set you back. Set a realistic goal and get moving. It will do your body good.
Do you have any strategies you have used to help keep your holidays healthier? Share them with us in the comments below. We’d love to hear them!