Fitness Facts: Healthy eating during the holidays
By Connie Colbert
Director, Canyon Health and Wellness Clinic
According to a recent Weight Watchers report, the average American gains around 7-10 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. Much of this weight is maintained from that point on despite our promise to go on a diet in January.
Consider the following healthy tips to enjoy the holiday parties while also staying in control of your eating:
- Do not leave the house on an empty stomach. Eating regular meals and snacks every day makes it easier to resist overdoing it at festive events.
- When you skip on meals because you are busy shopping, wrapping, cooking or baking, snack on protein-packed snacks such as low-fat yogurt, cheese or nuts to control your hunger.
- Pick what to splurge on rather than mindlessly nibbling on any party food that comes your way.
- Make socializing your priority; conversation will keep you occupied and keep you away from the food table.
- Chew gum or suck on a sugarless breath mint to prevent picking.
- If you’re able, brush your teeth; the taste of toothpaste dulls taste buds.
- Abstain from or limit your drinking. Alcohol increases hunger and lowers willpower.
- Reduce your portion size and stop eating when you feel satisfied – don’t wait until you’re too full.
- If you are hosting a holiday party, substitute high-fat, sugar and calorie ingredients with more healthy choices. Prepare just one dessert and offer fruit, such as chocolate-dipped whole strawberries, instead of cookies and candy. In a decade’s time, the effects of nibbling a few cookies here and there may add 10 pounds to your frame.
- Make sure you get plenty of sleep, exercise often and plan your meals ahead of time. Do not abandon your healthy habits or feel pressured to drink more than usual.
At parties, pile your plate with lower-fat foods to limit high-calorie splurges. Also, eating foods higher in fiber not only controls your appetite but minimizes spikes in blood sugar. The following items have fewer calories, fat and sodium and more fiber than other holiday fare:
- Whole grains, such as whole-wheat rolls, wild rice and quinoa
- Shrimp, lobster, and other steamed seafood
- Plain or lightly dressed vegetables
- Meat and poultry without the gravy
- Salad greens (lightly dressed)
- Fresh fruit
Get out and enjoy the time with friends and family, but minimize the damage done by too many unhealthy holiday foods!