Holiday season is a whirlwind of decorating, traveling, seeing family, cooking, and eating. Even if you are bound and determined to eat healthy, it’s easy to get tripped up. Instead of resigning yourself to a disappointing holiday season, prepare with these holiday eating tips meant to help you stay on track:
1. Rest up
Try to get at least seven hours of sleep before a holiday event with lots of food. According to a recent study, you may be more inclined to eat 300 additional calories and choose higher-fat, higher-calorie foods if you don’t get enough sleep. Men tend to have an increased appetite after a short night’s sleep, while women can feel less full after eating if they aren’t well rested.
2. Have a strategy
Knowing your limits ahead of time is a huge part of not going overboard with your portion sizes. Plan out how much you want to eat of each side dish and entree selection, knowing there will be a dessert option later. Try to eat the best-for-you offerings first by scoping out the spread before you put anything on your plate. You can even grab a smaller plate to keep from adding too much. Stand more than an arm’s length away from munchies you know you can’t resist if you’re too close. Finally, concentrate on your meal while you’re eating it, focusing on chewing and enjoying the sensations.
3. Trim back the trimmings
Deck the halls, but go easy on your food accessories. Try to go easy on nuts, cheese, cream sauces, gravy, butter, and whipped cream as these will add plenty to your waistline. Go for the satisfied feeling, not stuffed.
4. Wear snug clothes and keep one hand busy
Holding in your stomach while wearing snug-fitting attire can keep you preoccupied when you’re around food. Hold a drink in your dominant hand to make it harder to grab food.
5. Chew gum
When you don’t want to eat, pop a piece of gum in your mouth to keep you from grabbing pinches and tastes of whatever is handy. This is especially helpful while cooking and baking delicious treats. Or if you’re not ready to dive into the buffet, take a gum break and wait a little while longer before filling your plate.
6. Be a food snob
Don’t think it’s your responsibility to sample everything available — if you don’t love it, don’t eat it. Skip the everyday foods available all year long and go for the dishes you only have at this time of the year. Indulge in your personal holiday favorites and slowly, mindfully savor every mouthful.
7. Don’t skip meals
Eat normally on the day of the party. Skipping meals can make you hungrier and boost your cravings, making it harder to choose selectively and stick with smaller portion sizes.
8. Add fun and games
Take the focus off food by including everyone in games at your get-togethers. Set up a game of horseshoes or badminton, go sledding or ice skating, or try building snowmen. If you’re inside, start a game of charades or watch YouTube instructional dance videos to keep everyone entertained.
9. Eat before going to a party
Eat breakfast or have a healthy snack before leaving your house. Eating more food earlier in the day can help curb your appetite later. Plus, if you feel full before arriving, you’re less likely to snack or overindulge because you’re hungry.
10. Keep healthy snacks at your office
Stash healthy foods at your desk at work and try to keep communal office goodies out of view. If you can see the communal dining area in your office, try turning away or putting a large plant on your desk to block the view. Eat something healthy before you splurge or delay your daily indulgence by taking a small portion whatever tempts you home for later.
11. Stick with your exercise routine
If you don’t have time for your normal 30 minutes or hour of sweating, break it up into a few 10- or 15-minute spurts of exercise throughout the day. Try running the stairs or taking a walk with coworkers to get coffee, but leave your wallet at your desk. Tell yourself that you’re keeping your weight in check by running around cleaning for house guests, dashing through a million stores to find the perfect presents, and more.
12. Don’t go hungry to the mall
Cut down on the lure of the food court by eating before you shop. Then, plan your route around the mall so you don’t pass the snack stand multiple times. This will help you stay away from the extra calories and walk more throughout the day. Leave the mall or stop at a proper restaurant to sit down to a meal instead of grabbing something from the food court. Steer clear of any restaurants with loud noises, distractions, and bright lights. Finally, avoid fast-food places with red emphasized in their color schemes as eating food on red plates and in red packaging can raise your blood pressure, increase your heart rate, and stimulate hunger.
It’s difficult to stick to your diet during the holidays, but if you go in with a plan, you can do better than before. Be prepared for something to surprise you — it could be a delectable dessert or a new recipe for cranberry sauce. Either way, you should understand that some indulgence is expected and you can combat it by choosing healthier options throughout the season.
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Content on our website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911. Always consult your physician before making any changes to your medical treatment.