Managing the Waistline this Holiday Season
It’s that time of year again. The weather has gotten colder, the leaves are falling, and the holidays are right around the corner. While this season often involves celebration with family and friends, it can also be a time of increased stress and food temptation. Food is often an integral part of honored traditions, and the idea of having to forgo nostalgic treats can be disappointing. The good news is that restriction from food or celebration is not necessary in order to maintain a healthy weight. Here we offer a number of strategies to apply as you approach the holiday season.
- Don’t arrive starving. Skipping meals throughout the day will cause you to arrive to an event very hungry, which sets the stage for over-indulgence and poor choices. Instead, have a small meal or snack 2-3 hours before the event. This way you will arrive with a small appetite that is easier to control.
- Bring something to share. Contribute a dish that is made with lower calorie ingredients and is nutrient dense. This will ensure there is a healthy option to select from at the table.
- Position yourself for success. Don’t graze near the food table; instead make a plate and walk away. Picking at food mindlessly results in overeating because it’s difficult to keep track of the amount consumed.
- Start small. Fill up with an appetizer plate to start; this will mitigate the risk of overeating due to participation in the “clean the plate club.” Check in with your sense of fullness before considering seconds.
- Over-restricting often backfires. Allow yourself to enjoy some of your favorite foods, within moderation. Research shows that over-restricting can actually increase cravings. Instead, survey the food table before you make your plate. Pick your desired treat(s) but only allow that to be 1/4 of your plate. Fill the rest of your plate with healthier alternatives. This way you still enjoy your favorite foods, just in smaller portions.
- Choose your drink wisely. Instead of opting for beer, sugary cocktails or heavy cream liquors, try wine or spirits mixed with soda or tonic water. This will help to keep the calories in check.
- Drink a glass of water between alcoholic beverages. Popular holiday cocktails are often packed with sugar. Alternating water with alcohol is an easy way to cut down on the number of calories consumed. Water also helps to increase feelings of fullness, and prevents a headache the next morning from dehydration.
- It’s OK to say no. Politeness or the fear of insulting the host is often a common culprit for overeating. Practice saying “no, thank you,” after a meal with a friend or partner. The key is to feel comfortable and confident when the time comes in social situations. Also, compliment the host on the meal and ask to have seconds or dessert wrapped up for later.
- Keep your routine. Maintaining an exercise regimen will help to manage stress, keep the calories off, and boost self-esteem. Too busy to get to the gym? Consider tracking your daily steps and create daily goals to achieve.
Feel like you need more guidance or accountability? Schedule an appointment with our Registered Dietitian to discuss further strategies to maintain a healthy weight this holiday season.