The holidays are here and what a wonderful time to celebrate and reconnect with family and friends. Many of the festivities we attend this time of year include an abundance of food and drinks. Here are a few tips to keep you healthy and happy throughout the holiday season.
1. Never show up to the party hungry. If you are already famished, your decision to eat poorly or over eat is highly probable. Grab a healthy snack at home like fruit or yogurt or pick up some trail mix or nut mix if on the run.
2. Offer to bring a healthy dish and then make that dish your primary entree. Not only will you know how great it tastes and you can be assured that there are no hidden ingredients that will aggravate allergies or take you away from your focus of living healthy.
3. Fill up on the veggies – they are low in calories and high in fiber; but avoid the dips and sauces – they are loaded in calories.
4. Your eyes are NOT bigger than your stomach so control the portion sizes. It’s okay to eat a slice of roast, but not half of the roast. Create a colorful and balanced plate of protein (meat), fruits, and fiber (raw veggies) and you will be better off.
5. Eat slowly and drink water with your meals. By eating slowly, you give your food an opportunity to digest and you won’t eat nearly as much. Drinking water fills you up with something that your body needs and will also decrease the amount you eat as well as aid in digestion.
6. If you drink alcohol, stay away from liquor and mixed drinks. Light beers are lower in calories, unless you consume a case of beer. If you do drink mixed drinks, use diet beverages. Wine is also high in calories so be careful. Remember that twelve ounces of beer, five ounces of wine, and one ounce of liquor is considered one drink. And please remember to not drink and drive.
7. Maintain your weight during the holidays. Drastic weight loss and stringent exercise programs are unrealistic at this time of year. Most people waste significant amounts of money on books and programs and don’t follow through. If you can maintain your weight and current exercise routine, even if you fall short, you will be better off for the New Year.
8. If you are serious, tell the world. We will hold you accountable. Friends and family are a great source of support and if you tell them your goals for eating healthy, they will surely remind you and help you stay focused. Don’t get mad, shake it off, and grab some health snacks like almonds or dried fruit
9. Find healthy alternatives to your holiday favorites by looking online, in newspaper, or in health conscious cookbooks. This is a great way to learn new recipes and have family fun in the kitchen.
10. Have fun! It’s okay to have a piece of pecan pie, but don’t over indulge. Eat slow, drink water, and sit back and enjoy your family and friends. Happy Holidays!
Rani G. Whitfield, M.D.