It’s that time of year again: the holidays! Fortunately, or unfortunately (whichever way you look at it), these holidays bring a lot of food to the table-from turkeys and stuffing to pies and cookies, and let’s not forget, plenty of alcohol. The holidays are a time where friends and family gather around to spend time together and indulge in plenty of high-caloric treats. Although it’s a time to make lifelong memories, this time of the year can also be extremely stressful for people who are trying to watch their weight or pay attention to their food choices due to health issues. Their concerns and stress about holiday food is valid. According to the National Institutes of Health, overeating during the holidays can lead to an extra one or two pounds every year. This weight gain can add up and stick with a person throughout the years.
It’s unrealistic to tell people to skip the pie or grandma’s casserole during a holiday dinner, but it is realistic to approach the holiday season with a different mindset. The holiday season shouldn’t be this “all or nothing” mentality when it comes to enjoying oneself, but rather it should be about mindful choices. You can indulge in moderation during the holiday season and still stay on track with your health and fitness goals.
I wanted to share some tips and advice to help you navigate through all the parties, dinners, and gatherings that you’ll be attending during this holiday season. Remember, you don’t have to miss out or deprive yourself this holiday season.
- Pay attention to the food you’re eating. Don’t mindlessly eat, and don’t eat food just because it’s there. Eat when you’re hungry. Don’t eat just to eat.
- Choose special and unique foods you don’t normally eat the rest of the year to fill your plate. Balance these treats out with fruits and vegetables.
- Control portions. Eat smaller portions of the foods provided. Remember, there will be other parties and dinners for you to try out other foods, as well.
- Don’t stress out about the scale during this season. Aim to maintain your weight. The holidays aren’t the ideal time of year to go on a diet. Pay attention to the scale, the way your clothes fit, and how you look and feel in the mirror to monitor your progress.
- To manage your caloric intake, drink alcoholic beverages in moderation. The calories in these drinks can add up quickly.
- Don’t skip meals because you know a big meal is ahead. Skipping a meal with only make you hungrier and potentially cause you to overeat.
- Stop eating when you feel satisfied and try not to stuff yourself. There will be more opportunities throughout the season to eat delicious food.
- Aim to stay active throughout these months. If you go to the gym or take classes, continue this routine. Exercise will help balance out the increase in calories you’re consuming. You don’t need to go overboard with exercise either. A few 10-15-minute walks throughout the day can really help your body.
- It’s OK to say no to second helpings.
- If you plan on watching what you eat, avoid creamy sauces, dips, dressings, large portions, fried foods, and multiple helpings.
- If you’re not wanting to indulge this holiday season, bring your own food to the party. Or, bake a healthy dish, for everyone, that you’ll feel good about eating.
- Don’t stand near the food (if possible) so you’re less tempted to grab or mindlessly munch on treats.
- Keep a food diary during this time so you’re aware of what you have been consuming.
- Eat before going to a party so you curb your appetite. With some food in your stomach, you will be less likely to overeat on treats.
It’s OK to eat a little more and be flexible in your food choices this time of year. Moderation is key. If you practice many of the above tips, you will feel less “guilty” and be more confident in your choices this holiday season.
If you’re having a hard time managing your diet, especially through the holiday season, it’s a good idea to talk to a doctor to help manage your food intake and choices. Dr. Kordonowy of Internal Medicine, Lipid & Wellness of Fort Myers offers dietary counseling. To book an appointment with Dr. Kordonowy, click here or call 239-362-3005, ext. 200.