Holiday Tips for Enjoying Meals Without Going Overboard
The temptations and treats of the holidays can have a significant impact on the entire family’s waistline. From cookies and candies to large meals and sugar-filled punch, holiday celebrations often focus on food and encourage overeating.
According to Rania Batayneh, nutritionist and founder of Essential Nutrition For You, a nutrition consulting firm, the average person gains five to seven pounds over the holidays.
Don’t let the joy of the season leave you feeling bloated and lacking energy while your children battle upset stomachs. Instead, practice mindful eating and utilize these tips to keep you eating healthy during the joyous season.
Most people set themselves up for overeating by starving all day, says Batayneh. “We all know that this is not an effective strategy for many reasons and with all of the fattening and starchy carbs on the dinner table, you will likely feel the need to fill up on them because your body has been deprived all day.”
Instead of waiting for the main course, fill up on veggies and fruits in the early morning hours so your appetite will not be in rare form when the holiday platters are set in front of you.
Get Your Workout In
When the holidays arrive, try not to slack on your daily workouts. Encourage the entire family to take a walk or run early in the morning to decrease your appetite and provide you with the energy to get through the day of celebrations. Think about taking a post-dinner walk, too, suggests Batayneh. “This can even happen after the meal and before dessert,” she says.
Many gyms offer morning workouts or boot camps on holiday mornings to help you burn calories before the big meal.
Decrease Alcohol Intake
Between the stuffing, bread rolls and mashed potatoes, this meal is a carbohydrate-lovers dream, but not your waistlines, says Batayneh. Don’t overdo it by adding too much carb-filled alcohol to the mix. “Limit the portions of the above foods to make room for your glass of wine and to keep your blood sugar more stable,” she says.
Try opting for lower calorie non-alcoholic drinks or mixing sparkling water with wine for a wine spritzer to keep your figure in shape.
Why is it that most holiday celebrations include large plates? Opt for a smaller plate to limit your portions. Portion size is key when diving into a holiday meal. You can still sample the best of the lean meats, veggies, potatoes and desserts, but you are less likely to over-indulge when you have smaller portions of each. Pay attention to your body, too, warns Batayneh. “If you feel full, put your fork down and enjoy the conversations,” she says. “The good news is that you can always take leftovers home and enjoy them the next day.”
Hydrate and Rest
To curb your appetite, stock up on water before the big meal. According to Dr. Elizabeth Lombardo, a clinical psychologist, physical therapist and author of A Happy You: Your Ultimate Prescription for Happiness, dehydration is often misinterpreted as hunger, and people end up eating more as a result.
Beyond dehydration, there are other factors that can encourage weight gain during the holidays. “Sleep deprivation and stress are two key variables often present during the holidays that put on weight,” says Lombardo. Encourage the entire family to go to bed early the night before a big celebration and minimize the stressors that cause anxiety during the holidays.
Although it may seem contradictory to eat more when you’re trying to stay healthy, consuming smaller, regular meals can help you to eat less. Lombardo suggests eating healthy meals and snacks leading up to the big meal so you are not feeling starved when inhibitions are not as strong.
When you are regularly fueling your body with healthy greens and fresh fruits, the temptation to eat just one more cookie or slice of pie is drastically reduced. When divulging on sweets, Lombardo recommends mindful eating. “Eat it slowly and mindful, enjoying every morsel without feeling guilty,” she says. “This will help you not feel deprived and actually enjoy it more.”