As the holiday season approaches, people will be celebrating at numerous occasions and parties. They don’t call this the busiest time of year for nothing. Yep, this is the season where every table is piled high with calorie-laden temptations, but it’s up to us to manage indulging in a healthy way.
Among many methods of abstaining from tantalizing treats, maintaining a food and exercise diary is perhaps the simplest way you can help in monitoring your daily consumption while focusing on the daily exercise you need. Studies show that people tend to gain 1 to 2 pounds during the holiday, and these can turn into permanent baggage if left unmanaged. No one really fancies to be on a strict diet during the holidays, but there are numerous strategies you can employ to enjoy a healthy holiday. Here are several tips to keep your health in check this holiday season:
Shop smart for good health
If you’re the one organizing the holiday party, make sure to serve healthier food varieties. Plan the menu by choosing plenty of fruits, vegetables, seafood, whole grains and lean meats. You can try using fat-free yogurt and sour cream instead of thick dips and sauces. Opt for low-fat or reduced-fat cheeses for salads and casseroles. Try to reduce salt or choose those with low sodium content when it comes to condiments. Go easy on sweets as well. You can use two egg whites instead of a whole egg to reduce the cholesterol while producing the same tasty result. Trimming the fat content in food can also help you to eat healthy during the holidays. Try using condensed skim milk in drinks and desserts, instead of full-fat condensed milk.
Plan your exercise
Even if you’re busy during the holiday season, you should always make time for exercise. This includes simple and quick physical activity such as walking instead of driving, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Exercise also aids in relieving holiday stress, since it diverts your attention away from all the holiday rush. Start by taking 10-15 minute brisk walking twice a day, then if time permits, you can jog or hike for at least an hour or two.
Chewing gum is a wonderful trick if you want to control yourself from eating too much. Choose a sugarless gum while you’re cooking to avoid too much taste testing. You also tend to lose the temptation of eating if your mouth already feels clean and fresh.
Don’t skip meals
Avoid skipping meals, especially if you’re going to a party later. Going to a party hungry could make you lose your restraint on food, which could result in overeating. Eat sensibly throughout the day since this will help you to manage your appetite. You can also try to eat light snacks such as fruit or yogurt before going to a party. This will stop your hunger from taking control of your food choices.
Skip the appetizers
Try to avoid appetizers, or choose healthy nibbles such as veggies, fruits, nuts and salsa. Most appetizers are loaded with calories, and this will only add to your holiday weight gain. Stay away from buttery pastries, spreads and dips like butter and mayonnaise.
Focus on your meal while you’re eating
Take time to concentrate on what you’re eating. This allows you to chew your food well and to monitor what you’re actually eating. Multitasking during mealtime can make you eat mindlessly, which can make you eat more calories unconsciously. Conversation at mealtime is natural, but make sure to set your food down while chatting. Eat slowly and savor every mouthful.
Don’t linger near the buffet table
Stand away from the buffet table as much as possible. It will keep you from nibbling the night away. Once you’ve chosen your food, you can take it in another room to enjoy. Visit the buffet table once and be selective in your food choices. You don’t need to eat every viands on the table, so choose those that you truly love and skip the everyday dishes.
Drink alcohol and non-alcoholic beverages alternately
Alcoholic drinks are loaded with calories. If you can’t deny yourself from partaking in a few cocktails, cut the amount of calories by alternating water or seltzer for every drink of alcohol. You can also start by drinking a calorie-free, non-alcoholic beverage to satisfy your thirst first before having an alcoholic drink. Alcohol can also lessen your inhibition and induce overeating, so drink moderately.
David Novak is a international syndicated newspaper columnist, appearing in newspapers, magazines, radio and TV around the world. His byline has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Readers Digest and GQ, among others, and he has appeared on The CBS Morning Show, Paul Harvey and The Today Show. David is a specialist at health, wellness, diet and exercise, and he is a regular contributing editor for Healthline. For more information, visit http://www.healthline.com/.