While it may seem like 2020 has been dragging on, you may be shocked to find the holidays are quickly approaching! Just around the corner is time for those delicious foods we wait all year to have- stuffing, sweet potato casserole, turkey and ham, cranberry sauce, and of course, you can’t forget PUMPKIN
From holiday parties and cookie swaps to easy, fast food meals during full-day shopping adventures- the temptations are all around us. Have you often found yourself saying, ” Well, I’ll just starting eating healthier after the New Year” or find yourself setting the same 15-pound weight loss goal as your New Year’s resolution year after year? It is time to end that vicious cycle of over-indulgence, gluttony, and guilt this holiday season.
Tips For the Holiday Season
Here are a few tips to make this holiday season your healthiest one yet.
Opt for turkey breast without the skin- 4 oz of this lean meat is about 150 calories versus turkey breast with the skin and dark meat without the skin, which provides about 200 calories.
Ditch the ham and try something new for your main course this year- consider trying baked or grilled salmon fillet; it will certainly wow your guests and provide those healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Research shows that red and processed meats, including ham, may increase cancer risk, while fatty fish like salmon may reduce the risk for cancer.
Pick only one starchy side this year- rather than loading up the plate with mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, stuffing, and bread, choose just one. Having a ½ a cup of these loaded sides on one plate may add up to 90 grams of carbohydrates.
Don’t Forget Your Veggies
Fill up on those vegetables first- instead of reaching for the chips and dip during appetizers, go for the sliced veggies first. Load your plate up with salad before diving into your meal; this can help prevent you from overeating some of those less healthy foods.
Try having multiple vegetable sides to offer this year- there are no limits on the number of vegetables you can serve! Consider including some winter vegetables- Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, carrots, parsnips, and so many more make excellent dishes (even soup too!). The goal of eating 5-7 servings of vegetables per day does not change during the holiday season.
Yes, You Can Have Dessert
Allow yourself to enjoy a dessert (yes, you read that right). It is okay to allow yourself to have a slice of pumpkin pie or a few of your favorite holiday cookies. Be realistic with yourself. If you go into your holiday meal saying you aren’t going to eat any dessert, you will most likely end up eating more than you typically would. Pick your favorite, eat it, enjoy it, and move on- you will avoid the shame and guilt that naturally comes when we eat something we feel we aren’t supposed to.
Eat slower- try chewing your food slowly, taking sips of water between your bites, and allowing your body to recognize fullness. Too many of us are guilty of eating so quickly (because it tastes so good) that we feel uncomfortably full by the time we finish and let our body rest. It takes time for our body to recognize feeling full- by slowing down our meal, it can help us not overeat and help us avoid the need to unbutton our pants!
Think about your beverage choice- a traditional Pumpkin Spice Latte (16oz) has 380 calories, 14 grams of fat, and 50 grams of sugar (that is more than a can of soda!). Ask for skim or 1%, soy, or almond milk with your coffee or tea instead of whole milk or cream. Consider asking for drinks unsweetened, ½ sweet or fewer pumps of flavoring, or using sugar-free options.
Don’t forget to drink your WATER throughout the day to stay hydrated. Dehydration can lead to hunger resulting in overeating! Ditch the soda this year- one can (12 oz) of regular soda provides 40 grams of added sugars. Did you know women should consume less than 25 grams, and men should consume
less than 36 grams of added sugars daily?
Bring your snacks and eat before you go- if you are going out shopping, try to bring a protein-rich snack like a handful of nuts with a piece of fruit to fill you up and lower your chance of getting fast food. Eat a meal before you go- be sure to include some protein to keep your energy steady and your hunger down.
A Little Extra Won’t Hurt
Don’t let one bad meal ruin your day- if you enjoyed a little extra food at one meal, don’t let it ruin the rest of your day. Get back to healthy eating the next snack or meal; if you eat something “unhealthy,” focus on getting a variety of nonstarchy vegetables and lean protein with the next meal.
You Can Always Burn it Off
Don’t forget to exercise! Exercise improves our energy, mood, and stress and helps regulate our appetite. Of course, it also helps burn those extra calories we may indulge in. Shoot for 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week.