Don’t Let The Holidays Weigh You Down
Dec 3, 2018
By Carla Yaldezian-Estrada, MS, RD – CareerSmart® Learning Contributor
The holidays are here! For many of us, the rich holiday foods, parties, and cold weather make it hard to eat right and exercise. This year, don’t let the holidays weigh you down. Instead, below are five tips to help you enjoy yourself during the holidays.
1. Eat What You Love
The holidays are once a year, so go ahead and enjoy! Avoidance of your favorite foods causes cravings to increase, not decrease which is a set up to over eat. Aim for small portions of your favorite foods and set limits for yourself not to keeping going back. This also means not to skip meals. Many think they are “saving” calories for their favorite foods but this can lead to eating more calories, not less. Overeating is more likely to occur when there are thoughts of scarcity and deprivation such as, ‘I wont be able to eat this for another year, so might as well go big or go home.’ Your appetite can get away from you and all control goes out the window. Instead, try to practice intuitive eating by listening to your body’s hunger cues. Ask yourself, ‘do I really need that extra slice?’ It takes twenty plus minutes for your brain to get the signal that you’re actually full.
2. Make Smart Choices
Choose to eat vegetables, fruit, or grain-based foods first. These foods are packed with fiber, which helps to fill you up and reduces overeating. If you know these foods are a rarity at your holiday gatherings, make it a point to bring a vegetable dish and you will be guaranteed to have a low calorie, low fat option. Avoid going for the fried food. Choose steamed, grilled, baked, or broiled items instead. When eating crackers or pretzels pay attention to portion size. It is easy to lose track when you are socializing. Trim off all visible fat from meat and avoid eating the skin of the turkey.
3. Follow Your Gut
It is no surprise that feeling bloated is more common during the holidays, since eating quickly and having large portions are major causes of bloating. Rich, fatty foods are another trigger. Fat increases the time it takes to digest a meal and results in food remaining in the stomach for a longer period of time. In some people, food sensitivities can cause bloating. Two common culprits are gluten and dairy, which are abundant in traditional holiday meals. Portion control and intuitive eating can help reduce bloating. Also, try drinking warm water with fresh squeezed lemon or lime. This can help to digest food, reducing stomach pains.
Aim to make exercise a part of your day before the party. Even fifteen minutes of walking can a make a difference. Not only does it help to balance your calorie intake, it helps to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, both of which are very common around the holidays. Also, there are several studies that show by taking a brisk fifteen to twenty minute walk after a meal can help ease digestion and stabilize blood sugar levels.
5. Let Your Body Self-Regulate
If you do over eat, your body will make adjustments over time. So what if you gain a few pounds? It’s normal for your body to have seasonal fluctuations. It’s important to be flexible with these fluctuations knowing that weight is not fixed and that the body can self regulate over time. So don’t guilt trip yourself if you fall off track temporarily. Rather, aim to get back to your healthy eating habits as soon as you can.