The holiday season is here – a celebratory time full of delicious temptations and more demands for your time due to family gatherings, parties, shopping and entertaining, which might mean trouble for your waistline. PCMH registered dietician, Marie T. Niemeyer, says there are simple strategies to help you stay on track and still enjoy the season.
“Between busy schedules and a large amount of snacks and treats, it’s difficult to stay motivated,” Niemeyer said. “It is possible to indulge in a little holiday fun without gaining a lot.”
According to recent data, Americans gain an average of five pounds during the winter, due to the abundance of holiday feasts and parties where food and beverages high in calories and fat are readily available.
Niemeyer often counsels patients on ways to focus on healthy eating habits and offers the following tips for staying healthy this holiday season.
• Cook at Home. Keep your pantry, refrigerator and freezer stocked with the basics like olive oil, canned tuna, canned tomatoes, frozen vegetables, whole grains, eggs, hard cheeses, yogurt, nuts and an assortment of herbs and spices. With these staples, it will be easy to eat home-cooked meals as often as possible.
• Be Smart at the Buffet. Enjoy the feast with your eyes first. Survey the table, then choose your goodies, focusing on the fruits and vegetables at the beginning, then selecting small amounts of your favorites. A light healthy snack before you leave home will help you from overindulging on party fare. Also, be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day to help curtail your appetite.
• Don’t Miss a Meal. Although people often think that skipping meals will save room for large quantities of food later, it actually sets your hunger into overdrive. This excess hunger will make you more likely to choose food impulsively later.
• Control Your Portions. Avoid the clean plate club by eating until you are satisfied, not stuffed. Take time to pause during the meal to check your level of fullness. When you feel satisfied, leave the table and start doing something else to prevent mindless grazing. Choosing smaller portions will allow you to enjoy your favorite holiday treats while eating less.
• Keep Moving! Add fitness into your holiday celebration with exercise that is fun for the whole family. Take a walk after the meal, play a friendly game of flag football or wake up early for a morning run before all the festivities begin.
“The key to enjoying a healthy holiday season is moderation,” Niemeyer said. “Allow yourself to enjoy a little while still striving to make nutritious choices.”