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The Low Down on Holiday Meals

By Michele Lubin, MS RD CDN

 

The holiday season is right upon us. And we all know that it takes willpower to make it through this period without overeating. Staying on track can send your healthy food routine into hibernation until the New Year.

 

It all starts with those Halloween “fun size” candy bar temptations, continues with the Thanksgiving feast, carries on with the office and house parties through December, entices us even more with the cakes and cookies brought into the office, and ends with a New Year’s Eve celebration.

 

It can be a time of added stress too. You stress about so many things: What am I going to eat if I go to the party? Will they serve healthy options? Will I gain weight? Will I have time to exercise? How will I ever reach my goals when faced with all of this tempting food?

 

Faced with so many unhealthy choices, it can seem overwhelming when you try to focus on your healthy lifestyle. While the holidays are meant to be a joyous time, they don’t always turn out that way. But, with the right mindset, a realistic plan, and lots of positive self-talk, this challenging time may prove enjoyable and healthy after all. Here are a few ideas to help you find joy during this holiday season:

 

Burn More Calories

Increase your exercise and walking levels so you are burning more calories than usual, to make up for eating the treats that you love. Start now by adding an extra 4000 steps per day for the next week to pre-burn those Thanksgiving calories. Make it a holiday tradition to go for a family walk before and after the meal.

 

Eat What You Love, But Smaller Portions

Your holiday dinner can be 3000 calories or 1500 calories. It’s your choice. Start with your lower calorie options like turkey and vegetables to keep your calories in check. Plan to only taste one or two of your favorite holiday dishes like stuffing, candied sweet potatoes, pecan pie, mashed potatoes and gravy, etc. by enjoying a small bite (no larger than your fingernail), savor the flavor and remember to put down your fork between bites. Think of the size of the taste like a condiment on the side like the size of a tablespoon of ketchup.

 

Prepare Your Mind for the Event

Reflect on past holiday experiences and evaluate what lies ahead this year for you. Have it in your mind what you will say and do when those food-pushers taunt you to eat during the special occasion. Also, be prepared if people ask questions about what or why you are eating what you are, how you lost the weight, etc. Their intentions may be good, yet you may feel like the spotlight is on you.

 

Have a Realistic Plan

Develop a plan and commit to it!  Remind yourself that the holidays are not a time to overindulge and take a break from the healthy eating habits you’ve worked so hard to achieve since your weight loss. Taking a hiatus from your healthy eating is not an option, in fact, it can cause a significant amount of weight regain!

 

And finally, the best idea of all: Enjoy the company and conversations more than the food