Cheers to the holidays…and good health!

Cheers to the holidays…and good health!

The holidays are just around the corner, which means potlucks, family gatherings, and work parties.  It’s a time of year which often means putting on a few extra unwanted pounds and losing the body definition you have worked hard on all year long.  While it’s one of the most fun, joyous, and cheerful times of year, it can also quickly become the most dreaded when you add ten pounds to your waistline.  To lessen your caloric intake and still enjoy the holiday season alongside your family and friends, consider some of these tips.

One tip that can be helpful is to drink plenty of water prior to going to holiday parties and potlucks.  This helps give you a full feeling so that you will eat less.  Further, you can eat something small and filling like an apple.  An apple helps give you a full feeling for a long period.

Parties, gatherings, and potlucks often mean buffets, which can be very tough for many people.  With buffets, avoid standing at the buffet tables and bars that have finger foods, appetizers, and hor’derves  sitting out.  Instead, grab a plate and fill it with 1/3 cheeses, meats, dips, chips, and snack foods while filling the other 2/3 of the plate with fruits and veggies.  Additionally, allow yourself to only visit the table once and then throw your plate away.  Upon finishing, socialize in other areas away from the buffet table so you cannot reach the food.  Same goes for drinks because drinks add hundreds and hundreds of extra calories and often give people the munchies!

While parties and potlucks are a fun holiday tradition, they also tend to have an “appetizer and munch” period followed by a large buffet meal that is often followed by a dessert buffet.  Rather than eating and munching on appetizers, try to stick to core meals during the holiday season so you don’t fall victim to eating so much.  These core meals during the holiday season are already much higher in calories than an average meal, so sticking to core meals and avoiding the appetizers will help cut down on extra calories.  Further, if your gatherings, potlucks, and parties include a dessert buffet, stick to one regular portion size of dessert OR choose up to three small, bite-size portions of several desserts that you would like to try.

I recognize that many people have family recipes, casseroles, and dishes that make the holiday season special, but one great tip is to limit your meal to one casserole and serve basic vegetables such as green beans, corn, asparagus, etc. as other side options.  For example, choose either green bean casserole, corn pudding casserole, sweet potato casserole and then have basic vegetables as sides rather than as casseroles.  This helps eliminate having three to five casseroles that have cream of mushroom soups, additional heavy cream, sugar, and lots of butter.  If this is something that cannot be done and you must have many different casserole dishes at your holiday table, consider using substitutes (that you will love and feel good about and I promise your family won’t even notice).  For example, use part cauliflower in mashed potatoes and low-fat milk in casseroles in place of heavy cream or melted butter.

Lastly, and I say this lightly (so that you don’t think of it as an excuse to eat whatever you want during the holidays!), it is important to remember that your body does not expect you to eat perfect all the time, everyday, all year.  You can always redeem yourself later with motivation, will power, and a positive attitude of improving.  So, while I won’t encourage you to eat a slice of pumpkin pie and pecan pie at Thanksgiving or eat cinnamon rolls, eggs, hashbrowns, and bacon on Christmas, I will tell you that if you do slip up, you can make it up, preferably sooner rather than later!

One last quick tip is try to squeeze in some brisk walking with your family before or after holiday gatherings.  It’s a great way to socialize and it makes you feel even better when you sit down for your big feast!  My family actually makes it a routine to take a brisk walk before eating Thanksgiving to keep us from feeling so full later in the day!

Tis the season…for GREAT food, family, and GOOD health!


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