Healthy Holiday Eating Starts Now

 Around the Corner

It’s that time of year again – the holidays. Seriously, Halloween is 3 weeks away and then right after is Thanksgiving and then December is one big holiday party right through to New Years. Now is the time to get on top of weight, cravings, and generally less than healthy habits. Just because its the holidays doesn’t mean that healthy eating takes a backseat till January. Your healthy holiday eating should start now.

Start your Healthy Holiday Eating

Packing on a few extra pounds isn’t unusual during this time of year. Weight gain results not only from excessive eating and drinking, but also from added stress. So here are my best holiday survival tips.

Feel Good Sweets

Emotional Connections to Food: Holiday eating can be infused with emotional connections that we may not even recognize. For example, consuming sugar releases serotonin, the “feel good” hormone. When the stress resulting from over commitment, financial strain or family demands hits us, we may find ourselves reaching for sweets and baked goods to compensate. When you become more aware of the connection between sweets and serotonin, you can stop mindless eating habits. Find ways to naturally increase your serotonin levels in healthier ways like going for a walk or having a laugh with a friend. And ALWAYS drink a glass of water before eating something sweet as that will give you time to shift the craving and find a better response.

Exercise, Exercise

Keep-up Your Routine: One of the best ways to stay fit and healthy during the holidays is to keep to your exercise routine as much as possible. If you don’t have an exercise routine, this is a wonderful time to start one. Be sure to get to bed by 10 p.m. on the nights you’re not out celebrating. Get to the gym or do your regular workout. Remember, exercise increases your energy and reduces your cravings. Often times, people throw out their whole routine from Halloween to New Year’s Day, with the promise to start anew with a New Year’s resolution. This is a bad idea! Heading into the holiday season with that attitude is a recipe for disaster. If you feel fit going into the season, and maintain your schedule as much as possible, your stress levels will decrease, and you’ll be able to stay on track and maintain your weight and health goals.

Stuff the Turkey, not Yourself

Surviving Holiday Meals: If you’re like most people, it’s hard to be surrounded by your favorite foods and not to overindulge. Does this sound familiar? “It’s just once a year, I deserve it!” If so, remind yourself there is no food shortage. Stuffing yourself won’t make you feel good, you’ll just feel stuffed. Here are some tips to help you beat the temptations:

  • Use a smaller plate or simply make sure to leave some room on your plate
  • Take a tiny portion of all that is offered, so you can have a bite of everything
  • Eat slowly and savor the taste, the color, and the texture of each bite you take; remember, you don’t have to eat it all at once.

Booze makes you Hungry

Limit Your Alcohol: Don’t start drinking alcohol until after you’ve eaten something with protein such as nuts, turkey or cheese. All that sugar on an empty stomach will just spike your blood sugar levels. When your levels plummet, you’ll end-up ravenous.

Alcohol also quells your inhibitions making it harder to say “no,” which often leads to mindlessly roaming the buffet table consuming larger quantities than planned. Remember to drink water between alcoholic drinks. A non-alcoholic cranberry juice spritzer with lime is a beautiful, healthful and satisfying drink. Also, staying hydrated will help you reduce any potential hangover as well as give you a better night’s sleep.

New Recipes

Reinvent Special Recipes: When planning your own special holiday meal, choose wisely rather than nostalgically. You don’t need to make the green bean casserole and sweet potatoes with the little marshmallows just because that’s what you used to eat as a child. There are several updated and healthier versions of classic holiday recipes available. Just look them up online. I love green bean casserole and have a newer, healthier version that I make.

Simple Menu

When Menu-Planning, Cut-Out Non-Essentials: While some foods are “must-haves”, others are less essential. Keep your meals simple and cut-out the foods which are not absolutely needed. When you look at a table that has mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes and biscuits, it evokes a feeling of over kill. Consider choosing the healthier option of sweet potatoes and pass on the others. You’ll still feel full and satisfied at the end of the meal. Keep in mind that 2,000 calories is the average daily intake. So, a typical holiday meal with turkey, stuffing and all the trimmings (excluding dessert) runs about 1,500 calories.

Eat Smartly

Starvation Before an Important Meal May Backfire: Have you ever not eating all day or very lightly during the day before a big event? How did that work for you? Usually it leaves you arriving to the event starving and eating everything in sight. Play it smart and eat some protein at breakfast and then a light lunch before the event, you will be much less likely to overindulge.

Moderation and Balance

The Glass is Half-Full: It’s important to note that[tweetthis] being healthy during the holiday season doesn’t mean deprivation. Think of it as moderation and balance[/tweetthis] If you do overindulge, be gentle with yourself and plan lighter meals for the next few days. Fresh veggie juices, broths and steamed veggies are great choices. I love USANA’s plant based shakes to keep me on track.

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