Stuffing and gravy and buns, oh my! Here comes the challenge of holiday eating again. Who hasn’t used the excuse of “it’s the holidays” to treat themselves to tasty temptations at office parties, social gatherings and holiday meals with family?
Several studies have shown that men and women gain about one to two pounds of weight between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It might seem like you gain five to ten pounds during that time, but most people do not. However, most people don’t lose those one to two pounds after the holidays are over, which then contributes to slow and steady weight gain through the years.
Fortunately, those pounds can be avoided through some mindful eating strategies that you can start now. Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Don’t skip meals. Even if it seems like a good tactic to skip breakfast and lunch to save up calories for a big evening buffet meal, it will be hard to control the amount you eat when you are very hungry. Instead, have lighter meals at breakfast and lunch that include some lean protein. Then when you get to the party, position yourself away from the hors d ‘oeuvres table, allow yourself normal size portions and resist the urge to go back for seconds. It will be easier to do this when you aren’t super hungry.
- Watch your bread and carbs. Holiday meals are laden with carbohydrate containing foods and these calories can add up in a hurry, as well as make it harder for those who may have diabetes and are “counting” carbs. If you’re the hostess, plan on offering alternatives so that your guests can have options. For example, if you normally serve scalloped corn as a vegetable, could you also serve green bean amandine as a side dish? How about serving a sugar-free jello salad with fresh raspberries versus a mayonnaise-laden macaroni salad?
- Be creative. If your get-together is a potluck, be the one to bring something fun and healthy to eat. You might be surprised how many others are trying to watch what they eat as well. Relish trays and carrot sticks can be pretty boring. But you could jazz up that relish tray with pretty fruit kabobs of melons and berries, a hummus dip with carrot curls and radish roses and a dip made from low fat yogurt with a little honey and cinnamon for flavor. We eat with our eyes as well as our mouth!
- Count your cookies. A single medium-sized plain cookie has about 100 calories. Add sugar, frosting and chocolate and you add calories in a hurry. And then how many do you eat? Be mindful of how many “treats” you eat and don’t feel like you have to pick one up every time you pass by the candy dish. Cookies, candy, fudge and snacks count as calories too and often aren’t even eaten as part of the meal when they sit out in candy dishes, on the table in the break room or on the counter after the big meal.
- Enjoy the time with family and friends. Traditions and favorite foods are a part of the holiday experience. Don’t deprive yourself, but don’t go wild either. There is a place for “smart splurging” and moderation, even during the holidays.