Healthy Holiday Eating: Maintain good physical and mental health while celebrating
You approach the holiday with a sound game plan
Roseville, CA – It’s finally November and we all know what that means – the holidays – first Thanksgiving, then Christmas, and New Year’s.
Fun with the family, office parties, or shops serving candy and other seasonal favorites – who can resist? Emotions are high, hopes are high, and the temptation of sweet treats adds another dimension to the season: anxiety about holiday weight gain. While eating plenty of good food is expected and encouraged during these special times, being too indulgent can lead to problems later.
Vacations don’t have to be synonymous with weight gain, especially if you approach them with a sound game plan. Here’s a holiday eating game plan you can follow before you find yourself making another New Year’s weight loss resolution again.
Don’t miss meals – Especially breakfast in anticipation of eating larger meals later in the feast. Research shows that people who eat a healthy breakfast tend to consume fewer calories during the day.
Eat a meal beforehand Don’t go on vacation on an empty stomach. Snack on a fruit or vegetable before you head out the door. This will give you a slight feeling of fullness, which will help prevent overeating later.
Plan ahead Create a plan for self-control, especially when it comes to the things that are most tempting to you. Think ahead about the sights, sounds, smells, and feelings that trigger personal patterns of overeating, and make plans to combat them ahead of time so that they don’t become overwhelming.
Once you enter the game
drink a lot of water – Drinking a glass of cold water or ice throughout the event will help you feel full and prevent dehydration caused by eating too many foods high in sugar and salt. In fact, dehydration can actually mimic hunger, tempting you to eat more when you should be drinking more water.
Practice portion control – It’s so nice to dig into your favorite holidays. However, the extra effort required later to shed calories, or worse, gain unwanted body fat from eating too much, should be a reminder to portion control. So, eat what you want, just keep your portions reasonable, chew your food slowly, and keep trips back to a minimum.
Size matters! The larger your plate, the more likely you are to overeat. Use smaller plates in the buffet line as they can help with portion control. There is something about the sight of an empty plate that helps us feel satisfied whether the container is large or small. This is why using smaller boards is so effective.
Eat because you are hungry, not because you are Make a deliberate decision to control what is called recreational eating. Eat with your appetite, not with your eyes. Examine what’s available, then decide what you really want
Eat slowly It takes about 20 minutes for the stomach to tell the brain that it feels full. But when the food is swallowed, by the time the stomach sends the fullness signal to the brain, you may have already eaten too much food and too many calories. Fill your plate, eat slowly, and then put the brakes on for a while so your stomach can send the fullness signal to your brain.
Get out of the vegetables – Eating healthy vegetables that are low in calories and rich in fiber instead of foods rich in fat, sugar, salt and caffeine will make you feel full without the disadvantages of dehydration, nervousness, weight gain and overeating.
Share the holiday spirit – and your food. Save calories by sharing foods with another person.
Have fun – They don’t call it “the most beautiful time of the year” for nothing! But instead of focusing on food, allow yourself to enjoy the personal relationships, the meaning of the season, personal reflections, renewed spiritual devotion, holiday games, fun, and the memories you are blessed to have.
Plus, remember that eating healthy is only half the battle. You also need to stay physically active. Try these easy steps to burn more calories on vacation:
- Maintain or slightly increase your regular exercise program. This will help reduce your appetite, keep your metabolism high, and give you room for a few calories for that delicious dessert.
- When shopping for holiday gifts, park further away from the shopping entrance.
- Always use the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Take a walk after eating a heavy meal. As tempting as it may be to lie on the couch afterwards, a short walk instead will actually help your body digest your food.
Remember, the key to winning is a good defense. Following a game plan for healthy eating will help you maintain good physical and mental health while partying with friends and family.
Men’s Health Network (MHN) is a national nonprofit organization whose mission is to reach men, boys, and their families where they live, work, play, and pray through prevention messages and tools, screening programs, educational materials, advocacy opportunities, and patient mobility.
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